With Thanksgiving now less than a week away (wow), it now means that we, as consumers, can start thinking about shopping and making sure we have our gift lists ready so we are fully prepared to hit the ground running, whether it is at the physical mall or the online one.
But just because we are now thinking about the holidays does not, by any stretch, mean that large players, specifically in the parcel space, have not been thinking about them for a while, a long while, really.
That has been highlighted in recent weeks with holiday season-related projections issued by some of the biggest household names in parcel and package delivery. You know their names, but here they are again: UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Atlanta-based UPS said earlier this month that it expects 1.6 million returns per day in the week leading up to Christmas, and added that it projects holiday returns to hit a peak of 1.9 million on January 2, 2020, known as National Returns Day, which would mark a 26% annual gain.
In a statement touting these figures, UPS noted how “record-breaking returns volume illustrates how e-commerce is changing the way consumers buy during the holidays.”
Taking that a step further, it also highlighted that in December consumers will ship via UPS more than 1 million packages back to retailers per day, which will continue into early January. What’s more, it expects an initial spike in returns coming the week before Christmas, in the form of 1.6 million packages returned per day the week of December 16.
“As retailers start preparing for the busy holiday season, they should certainly be factoring returns into their business plans,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Gone are the days where returns were isolated to January – today’s empowered consumers will be sending packages back to retailers all season long.”
Over at FedEx, the company said this week that peak holiday shipping will truly kick off on December 2, Cyber Monday, saying it expects to move more than 33 million packages through its global network, and it also expects to more than double its average daily package volume on the subsequent two Mondays. The company said that the reason for this is due to weekend online shopping, with orders coming into retailers’ shipping cycles early in the week, while driving strong demand for residential delivery.
“E-commerce continues to grow, and FedEx is ready to deliver this holiday and beyond,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, FedEx Corp. “We recognized early on that e-commerce would transform the way our customers shop and ship, and we have invested in a world-class network that flexes to meet volume demands throughout the year.”
While UPS and FedEx highlighted holiday returns, the USPS was more “old school,” in issuing actual volume projections.
Between December 16 and December 21, USPS said it is preparing to deliver more than 28 packages per day, with the expectation it will average 20.5 million packages per day through year-end. And the USPS also pointed out that it expects to deliver 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, adding it “delivers more packages to home than any other shipper.”
What’s more, USPS said it will expand Sunday delivery this weekend in locations with high package volumes, while it already delivers Sunday packages in most major cities, with the expectation is will deliver more than 8 million packages on Sundays in December, coupled with USPS mail carriers delivering packages for an additional fee on Christmas in certain locations.
USPS added that its busiest time of the year is the two weeks leading up to Christmas, due to the flurry of last minute shopping, with customer traffic picking up on December 9, and the week of December 16 pegged to be the busiest mailing, shipping, and delivery period.
With all of these high-volume numbers and projections, it only reinforces the heightened level of activity for UPS, FedEx, and the USPS see this time of year. That goes without saying, to be sure. But, at the same time, it is always impressive to see those numbers. These figures also go a long way in showing how reverse logistics only continues to get bigger and bigger as time goes on. Last-mile logistics and e-commerce continues to gain more traction by the day, and these numbers serve as a real-time indicator. That said, get your gift lists ready and start shopping. UPS, FedEx, and the USPS are clearly ready to move what you are buying (and returning).
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