Postal service

UPS, postal service step up on-time deliveries during the holidays, data display

Delivery networks mostly held up during the first major test of the peak shipping season, according to industry data, as earlier purchases and increased in-store purchases eased the usual late-season congestion. year.

United parcel service Inc.

UPS -1.26%

and the U.S. Postal Service improved on-time deliveries during and after Thanksgiving compared to a year ago, according to ShipMatrix Inc., a parcel analytics company. The two-week period included the intense shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday.

FedEx Corp.

FDX -1.05%

showed a decrease in on-time performance compared to last year as measured by ShipMatrix, although this is an improvement over recent quarters. FedEx executives said a persistent labor shortage is causing some orders to take longer to reach their destinations.

There have been other pockets of problems in the shipping world. Some regional carriers have warned of delays due to the influx of packages and difficulties finding workers. Some large retailers like Target Corp.

told customers that some of their online orders could take a day or two longer to arrive.

“Despite labor shortages affecting the ability of parcel carriers to hire additional workers, they have delayed service levels,” said ShipMatrix President Satish Jindel.

Carriers still have two critical weeks before Christmas to collectively process and deliver hundreds of millions of packages, with some deadlines already passed. And factors such as weather conditions and natural disasters, such as tornadoes that swept through parts of states, including Illinois and Kentucky, can disrupt operations.

As companies began to recruit staff for the holiday season, they faced one of the tightest job markets in decades. To attract employees, some companies like UPS offer connection bonuses and additional benefits as well as creative incentives. Gene J. Puskar / Associated press

On-time scores between Nov. 21 and Dec. 4 were 87.9% at FedEx, 96.1% at the postal service and 96.4% at UPS, according to ShipMatrix. This compares to 94.9% at FedEx, 92.8% at the postal service and 96.3% at UPS during a similar period last year. Scores measure whether a package arrives within the promised delivery time, which may vary by carrier. Mr. Jindel said UPS has also added extra transit time for some services during peak shipping period, which helps with punctuality.

Punctuality scores improve if ShipMatrix includes express shipments that arrive later in the day or ground shipments that arrive within a day of the promised window. Based on this metric, which ShipMatrix says is more relevant for residential e-commerce deliveries, FedEx’s on-time rate rose to 97.4%, UPS’s to 99%, and postal service to 98.6%. .

Other shipping consultants have also noted limited issues with major carriers so far.

A FedEx sorting center in Queens, NY says FedEx currently has an average transit time of 2.2 days for ground shipments.


Photo:

Gabby Jones for The Wall Street Journal

“UPS operates on well-orchestrated plans and in close coordination with our customers,” said a UPS spokesperson.

A FedEx spokeswoman said the company currently has an average transit time of 2.2 days for overland shipments, and its published transit times “set the bar high for the industry.”

“The data provided by third-party consultants can vary widely based on several factors and does not provide the best or most accurate overview of an unprecedented holiday shipping season,” said the FedEx spokesperson.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the postal service is able to handle an additional 13 million parcels every day due to new facilities, new sorting machines, additional hires and other changes, which are contributing up to present to delivery performance. “The postal network is functioning well across the country,” he said in a statement.

Consumer awareness of supply chain issues and shortages of holiday gifts, from electronics to toys, has spurred earlier-than-normal purchases, leading to an earlier increase in shipping volume, said industry analysts. More consumers are also buying from stores this year than in 2020, when the pandemic barred people from entering stores and displaced more online shopping.

Shifts, along with increased shipping capacity due to additional machines and sorting facilities, have freed up space at a time when delivery networks are strained. ShipMatrix last month adjusted its estimate of the daily deficit between the number of packages shipped and the industry’s ability to process them to 1.3 million packages between Thanksgiving and year-end, from 4.7 million in September.

The U.S. Postal Service is able to handle more packages due to new facilities, new sorting machines, additional hires and other changes, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said.


Photo:

Nate Smallwood for The Wall Street Journal

Delivery times are also affected by labor shortages in warehouses and distribution centers. Convey Inc., which provides delivery tracking software, said it takes an average of three days from when an order is placed to when it is picked up, compared to 1.3 days last year.

With limited capacity at FedEx and UPS, more and more shippers have turned to regional carriers to ship door-to-door orders. At least two, LaserShip Inc., which operates along the east coast, and LSO Inc., based in Austin, Texas, have told shippers and customers to expect delays.

“We understand the frustrations of our customers,” said Josh Dineen, Chief Commercial Officer of LaserShip, adding that the company has worked to ensure that packages pass through its network as quickly and securely as possible.

LSO President Sean O’Connor said the carrier expects to deliver 2.5 million packages to its region, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 50% of more than any month he’s had. The increased volume caused the company to delay processing packages for about half a day to take the strain off the network.

“They may feel a bit of pain today, but every Christmas present will be delivered by December 25,” Mr. O’Connor said. “It’s fast and furious right now.”

Write to Paul Ziobro at [email protected]

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