Consumer Products

Massive shipping delays expected for holiday season

New data from predicts delay rates will double compared to previous years as e-commerce sales are expected to grow by 35%.
December 1, 2020

Tis the season…for waiting, apparently. Recent research from Florida-based logistics company predicts that shipping delays will increase significantly this holiday season.

The “2020 State of Holiday Shipping in the US—Covid-19 Edition” report examines the effect of the pandemic on shipping, with a focus on UPS and FedEx. The company analyzed shipping data from the 2019 holiday period (November 22 to December 31, 2019), the pre-pandemic period (January 1 to March 31, 2020) and the pandemic period (April 1 to October 31, 2020).

Earlier this year, quarantines and lockdowns led to concerns about limited product availability and shipping capacity. And despite extending the holiday shopping season in an effort to alleviate strains on manufacturing and deliveries, it appears online shoppers will still be in for long waiting periods. anticipates delay rates for the 2020 holiday season could be twice as long as any previous year. The average package delay rate during this holiday season is expected to be between 14% to 18%, though densely populated cities like New York and Los Angeles could see package delay rates as high as 30%.

During the 2019 holiday season, surges in shipping resulted in a 10% delay rate for packages sent through the UPS ground networks. During the pandemic period in 2020, that delay rose to 12.1%. Packages shipped through the FedEx ground services during the 2019 holiday season, meanwhile, saw a 19.8% delay rate. FedEx’s delay rate fell to 12.8% during the pandemic period.

And in addition to dealing with concerns around lockdowns, understaffing and increased safety procedures, toymakers and retailers are also up against record online shopping numbers. This year’s holiday shopping season is expected to set records, with Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast estimating that e-commerce sales will grow by as much as 35% for the 2020 holiday season (compared to 14.7% year-over-year growth in 2019).

According to data from IBM’s US Retail Index, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping by roughly five years.


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