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Bad weather to delay more than 10 million holiday packages, consultancy says

Huge backlog may not clear until mid-week, ShipMatrix says

A UPS truck is parked on flooded street on the waterfront while making deliveries during a powerful winter storm, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

More than 10 million holiday packages did not reach their destinations on Friday nor will they reach their destinations by Christmas Eve, casualties of the weather nightmare ensnaring more than half of the country, consultancy ShipMatrix Inc. said Saturday.

The bad weather, which has caused delays at parcel carriers’ East Coast and Midwest air and ground hubs, and has made driving slow and treacherous across the nation’s roads and highways, means that about 15% of deliveries scheduled for Friday and Saturday will not have made it by Christmas Day, said the consultancy, which has tracked the delivery carriers’ annual peak-season performance for many years.

The delays have caused shipment backlogs that may not clear until the middle of next week, ShipMatrix said. Currently, there are about 160 million packages in the nation’s delivery pipeline, according to ShipMatrix data.

Typically, each local driver delivers 250 to 300 packages per day at this time in the peak cycle, ShipMatrix said. However, hazardous road conditions are limiting daily deliveries to about 150 parcels per driver, the firm said.

The bad weather has even caused delays for the 20% of parcels moving via air in premium-priced express services, Jindel said.

Until the widespread cold snap of the past 2 to 3 days, the delivery carriers were holding their own in on-time delivery performance. From Dec. 8 to Dec. 17, UPS Inc.’s (NYSE: UPS) on-time delivery rate stood at 97.9%, FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) stood at 96.8% and the U.S. Postal Service clocked in at 94.4%, according to ShipMatrix data.


It has been nine years since inclement weather played a part in triggering significant delivery delays during Christmas Week. In 2013, millions of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) parcels did not arrive on time, courtesy not only of the elements but of Amazon flooding UPS with millions of last-minute deliveries that UPS was not prepared for. The fiasco led Amazon to accelerate plans to build an in-house delivery network.

One Comment

  1. I heard

    I heard somebody say you become somebody’s slave when you get a truck driving job and you get a new slave owner. The trucking company has to buy you from the previous slave owner of has to pay a royalty. That’s why drivers aren’t applying for jobs

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.