FedEx, UPS Forecasting Busy Holiday Shipping Season

By George Ford, Reporter


By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa - Their busiest days are projected to be 10 days apart, but FedEx and UPS agree that the upcoming holiday season will be busy for both companies.

FedEx expects to handle 280 million shipments between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an increase of 13 percent from the same period last year. On FedEx's busiest day, projected to be Dec. 10, the company forecasts 19 million packages will course through its network, up 10 percent from its busiest day in 2011.

Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx always has an earlier "busiest day" each holiday season than the larger UPS because its peak time shipments are comprised of fewer priority packages.

UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, expects to deliver 527 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, topping last year's record high by 10 percent. The company is forecasting 28 million of those packages will be delivered on Dec. 20, projected to be its busiest day of the year.

That's nearly double what Atlanta, Ga.-based UPS delivers on an average day.

More Americans are shopping online, waiting until the last minute, and using expedited shipping, which has pushed its busiest shipping day closer to Christmas for UPS. Last-minute shoppers who ship packages Dec. 21 can get their goods by Christmas Eve via next day UPS air.

UPS plans to hire 55,000 seasonal workers to sort, load and deliver packages. That's roughly the same number it hired last year, but 10 percent higher than in 2010.

Online holiday sales are projected to grow 16.8 percent, excluding travel purchases, according to research firm eMarketer. Online shopping accounts for about $1 in every $10 spent over the holidays.

Overall holiday sales are projected to increase 4.1 percent, according to theNational Retail Federation. If realized, that would be the smallest increase since 2009.

FedEx Express and UPS have air cargo operations at The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids.

UPS has named Cedar Rapids a "central input point" for the company's Next Day Letter and Pak overnight freight service in the continental United States. The Cedar Rapids area generates more next-day business for UPS than Des Moines.

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