Why Your Holiday Gifts May Not Arrive on Time This Year
Life + Money

Why Your Holiday Gifts May Not Arrive on Time This Year

© Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Better get your online holiday orders in early this year.

Online sales have been higher than expected so far this holiday season, and that has shipping companies struggling to get packages to their destinations on time.

On-time delivery of UPS packages fell to 91 percent last week, compared to the 97 percent delivery rate typical during non-holiday months, according to an analysis by software developer ShipMatrix reported in The Wall Street Journal. This time last year, UPS was able to maintain the typical 97 percent delivery rate. The report indicated that FedEx on-time deliveries were also below its typical level of 95 percent.

Online shopping on Cyber Monday alone increased 12 percent this year to to $3 billion, according to data from Adobe

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Volumes are coming much higher than planned,” John Haber, CEO of Spend Management Experts told the Journal. “You can only process so much volume so quickly.”

Both FedEx and UPS have been preparing for the surge in package volume. FedEx is adding 55,000 extra workers to help out, while UPS is putting an extra 95,000 people on its payroll. 

The companies have another week before crunch time really hits. Dec. 18 is Free Shipping Day, the date hundreds of online retailers, including heavyweights such as Wal-Mart and Target, define as the last possible day you can get free shipping on items with no minimum order amount for delivery by Christmas Eve. (Amazon’s free shipping day is Dec. 16.)

Holiday shipping went relatively smoothly last year, but in 2013 an avalanche of late orders combined with weather woes meant some consumers didn’t receive their Christmas gifts until the holiday had passed.