Retail

Retailers Fret Over Christmas Delivery Deadlines

In an attempt to prevent last-minute shipping issues at the end of a holiday shopping season, retailers are encouraging shoppers to make their purchases sooner by pushing their shipping deadlines up.

According to a CNBC report, citing a study by customer analytics company StellaService, Dec. 19 is the shipping deadline most retailers have posted to ensure standard or free shipping by Christmas. The deadline was Dec. 21 in 2016, and in 2015 the cutoff was Dec. 20.

“Christmas also falls on a Monday this year, which means one less day to get those packages when they're promised,” said StellaService analyst Carol Krakowski. “You can't deliver on Christmas Eve.”

The report noted that retailers are also setting earlier deadlines this year to prevent any shipping problems, and some companies will try to look more customer-friendly by pushing a later cutoff. By setting Dec. 19, though, retailers have room to play with the deadline and fix any holiday shipping issues that may arise.

This holiday season is expected to be a busy one after retailers posted strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days. Adobe Analytics is forecasting $107.4 billion in eCommerce sales this holiday season, which would represent an all-time record. As of Dec. 5, $65.15 billion in purchases had already been made online, with each day since the beginning of November bringing in more than $1 billion in online sales.

Cyber Monday saw a record $6.59 billion spent online. Shipping and logistics firm United Parcel Services (UPS) had delayed some of its deliveries resulting from Cyber Monday purchases because of how busy it was, forcing it to move resources and employees around in certain markets. The move prompted concerns regarding more delivery troubles to come this holiday season, though UPS has reported its operations have since returned to normal.

“UPS' operations have returned to our original peak operating plan after the initial cyber week surge that exceeded our [expectations],” a company spokesman told CNBC.

UPS still expects to deliver approximately 750 million packages during the holidays this year, up nearly 5 percent from 2016 when it shipped 712 million packages.

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