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Holiday season shipping, when does it peak? What do you need to know and how to prepare?

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Since we are all probably feeling a bit queasy and bloated today from too much turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving goodies let’s try to keep things light and look at holiday season shipping. This is a subject that touches everyone in online retail small or large, you rely on your preferred parcel carrier daily to get that package safely to your customer, and this concern only grows as the holiday shopping season rolls around. As a seller you may have wondered once or twice, just when is the peak of the holiday season? Is there a particular day when you can expect your sales volume to hit its high mark? This is a tricky question to answer since lots of variables are involved and every business experiences the holiday rush differently but if you want a good indicator you can probably look to your carrier to answer this question. For the purposes of this article let’s look at the USPS and what they anticipate to ship as well as when they anticipate shipping volume to hit its peak. The USPS expects to deliver 900 million packages this holiday season by far the largest number of parcels of any of the major carriers by comparison UPS expects to deliver about 800 million and FedEx roughly half that number. While the USPS does not state a particular day which this volume hits its maximum, they tell us that they expect to ship around 200 million packages a week starting on December 10th and that the week of December 17th to the 23rd is expected to be the busiest of these holiday season weeks. So that sweet spot is that last week before Christmas, this stands to reason it’s your last-minute shoppers frantically trying to finish up their purchases making this week into a veritable blizzard of parcels. The only problem with this is that these last-minute shoppers are woefully ignorant of just how crazy shipping this week will be and the likelihood of packages being delayed increases dramatically. So as a seller what can and should you do to avoid the disgruntled last-minute holiday shopper that does not get their package in time? Very simply tell your customers the cutoffs. All of the major carriers clearly list a cutoff for Christmas delivery (see below) and so should you in big, bold, bright letters so they are not missed. Obviously, you will have a few customers still waiting until the last minute, but you can minimize this by stating these cutoffs and manage their expectations better. Obviously still expect to be very busy this last week before the Christmas holiday and make sure to build some extra time into your schedule to deal with the increased demand. Last but not least do not run out of the essentials like boxes, padded envelopes, tape and most important of all inventory!

USPS: Shipping service cutoff dates to ensure Christmas delivery

Retail Ground - Friday, Dec. 14

First Class Mail - Thursday, Dec. 20

Priority Mail - Thursday, Dec. 20

Priority Mail - Express Saturday, Dec. 22

FedEx: Shipping service cutoff dates to ensure Christmas delivery

SmartPost Services - Monday, Dec. 10

Ground - Friday, Dec. 14

Home Delivery - Monday, Dec. 17

Express Saver - Wednesday, Dec. 19

2Day Services Thursday, Dec. 20

Overnight Services Friday, Dec. 21

UPS: Shipping service cutoff dates to ensure Christmas delivery

Ground - Friday, Dec. 14

3 Day Select - Tuesday, Dec. 18

2nd Day Air Services - Thursday, Dec. 20

Next Day Air Services - Saturday, Dec. 22



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