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Consumers want, but don’t expect, Sunday parcel deliveries, survey finds

Larger-than-expected demand for Sunday deliveries, Pitney Bowes survey finds

Parcel deliveries to residences on Sundays is not a mainstream offering. But that doesn’t mean folks don’t want it.

About 41% of 2,200 respondents to a Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) survey said that Sunday home deliveries are important to them. About 53% of respondents said it wasn’t important, while 6% said they didn’t know or had no opinion. The survey was conducted at the end of July.

Unsurprisingly, the results varied by age and geography. About 56% of millennials and 53% of urban dwellers said it was important to receive Sunday deliveries. Both of those groups have higher expectations for fast deliveries than do other groups, Pitney Bowes said.

About 60% of rural residents and 71% of baby boomers said that Sunday service wasn’t a priority. Rural residents are typically unaccustomed to having the choice available to them, while older consumers are not focused on the speed of delivery as much as younger people.

Pitney Bowes said it was surprised by the percentage of respondents who valued Sunday deliveries. That said, while a good-sized minority wanted it, about 75% of those surveyed didn’t expect it to happen. The dichotomy indicates that those who would like Sunday deliveries are being “more aspirational than realistic” about its prospects, the authors found.

In fact, most respondents don’t consider Sunday to be a delivery day, according to the survey.

About 40% of respondents to an earlier survey said that if an online purchase was made on a Friday with a three-day shipping commitment, the latest they would expect the order to arrive would be the following Tuesday. About 39% of respondents extended their delivery-expectation window to Wednesday. Only 21% of respondents said they would expect that order to arrive on the following Monday.

By contrast, respondents with expectations of Monday or Tuesday deliveries generally count Saturday as part of the three-day window, according to the survey. The findings indicate that Saturday, unlike Sunday, is perceived by more consumers as an extension of the traditional weekday delivery cycle.

In general, how a consumer defines a “fast” delivery was no different in August than in March, the last time the question was asked. As of last month, 4.2 days was respondents’ average definition of a fast delivery. That compared with 4.1 days in March, according to the survey. The findings excluded deliveries of groceries and other perishables.

The parcel-delivery carriers’ current offerings give credence to the view that consumers’ Sunday delivery expectations are ahead of reality. UPS Inc. (NYSE: UPS) does not offer Sunday deliveries. The U.S. Postal Service offers Sunday service but almost exclusively for Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). FedEx Ground, the ground delivery unit of FedEx Corp., (NYSE: FDX) has begun to scale back its 2-year-old nationwide rollout of Sunday service amid concerns from its delivery contractors that there isn’t enough profitable volume to justify the additional labor and equipment costs.

FedEx Ground has suspended Sunday deliveries across 10% to 15% of its national network. Spencer Patton, a former FedEx delivery contractor leading an effort to aid contractors facing higher operating costs and slowing e-commerce volumes, wants the FedEx unit to scrub Sunday service altogether.

Satish Jindel, founder and president of ShipMatrix Inc., a consultancy, has said that FedEx Ground’s Sunday deliveries should be confined to major commerce nodes. Jindel has argued that the network operation, as currently designed, is a cost drain on FedEx Ground and its drivers because there aren’t pick-ups at businesses to offset the lower residential volumes.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1) and UPS (No. 2).

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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.