With Christmas one week away, delivery companies are feeling the pressure that accompanies the busiest week of the holiday shopping season.
According to news from The Wall Street Journal, FedEx, the United Parcel Service and the U.S. Postal Service expect to process a record number of packages this year. In fact, USPS already plans to exceed its initial forecast of nearly 850 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
In addition to the usual business of the holiday season, all three companies will also have to contend with Christmas falling on a Monday this year. Since not all packages are delivered on Sundays, this will put even more pressure on shippers and delivery companies to get packages to their destinations on time.
FedEx said that it expects to handle as many as 400 million packages and that it has upgraded its network with a new hub for its ground deliveries, as well as the expansion of two existing hubs.
Patrick Fitzgerald, SVP of Integrated Marketing and Communications at FedEx, said the carrier has a “pretty good idea” of how many items it will receive ahead of Christmas, along with where it will need to deploy trucks and planes, thanks to ongoing contact with retailers.
UPS, however, is under scrutiny this holiday season after a crush of online orders earlier this month contributed to delivery delays. The company said that while some packages took a day or two longer than scheduled to reach their destinations, the backlog has since been cleared.
The company has also told drivers that they may be asked to work more hours — 70 hours over an eight-day period, up from 60 over seven days — to meet the heightened demand, which didn’t sit well with union leaders who represent about 250,000 UPS employees.
Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, said the change shows that UPS didn’t hire enough workers this season.
UPS expected to hire 95,000 seasonal workers — around the same level of seasonal hiring as last year, despite a forecast that it will ship 750 million parcels this season, a 5.3 percent increase. UPS said it hasn’t needed to increase its seasonal hiring because it is relying more on automated equipment and hired more workers earlier in the year to meet demand.