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Holiday parcels should be under the tree on time, ShipMatrix says

Deliveries almost guaranteed by Christmas Eve as long as carriers’ deadlines are met, consultancy says

Early holiday shopping eased carriers' delivery pressure (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Nervous online shoppers can relax. Parcel Santa is almost guaranteed to be on time for Christmas.

That’s the view of consultancy ShipMatrix, which on Thursday posted its last weekly on-time delivery report card before Christmas Day for FedEx Corp., (NYSE: FDX), UPS Inc. (NYSE: UPS) and the U.S. Postal Service, the three national carriers handling business-to-consumer (B2C) shipments. Parcels tendered in accordance with UPS’ shipping deadlines have a 99.5% certainty of arriving by Christmas Eve, based on ShipMatrix data. Deliveries meeting the Postal Service’s schedules have a 99.2% chance of arriving by Christmas Eve, according to the data. For FedEx, the figure is 98.4%, ShipMatrix said.

From Dec. 12 to Dec. 21, UPS’ on time delivery rate was 97.1%, the Postal Service came in at 96.9%, and FedEx lagged at 91.2%. For the three carriers, the results were an improvement over the Dec. 5 through 11 delivery period, ShipMatrix said.

UPS and the Postal Service posted better on-time delivery metrics this year than during the same period in 2020, while FedEx’s year-on-year performance declined. FedEx Ground, the FedEx unit handling most of the peak-season traffic, has been beset this peak season with significant staffing shortages that have impacted delivery reliability and ratcheted up its costs.

The three years combined have delivered an average of 75 million paracels a day during the peak cycle, ShipMatrix said.

The year-over-year improvements are due to carrier investments in more facilities, processing equipment and seasonal workers, as well as operational changes that resulted in better system fluidity, according to Ship Matrix President Satish Jindel. U.S. consumers started their holiday shopping earlier than ever due to concerns about supply chain bottlenecks and huge demand overwhelming parcel networks and delaying deliveries. This eased the pressure on carriers to deliver massive volumes over a tightly compressed time period, Jindel said.

In addition, more holiday merchandise has been delivered to stores to support year-over-year increases in brick-and-mortar shopping, Jindel said. Parcel carriers have been able to drop off large volumes at one time to central locations rather than delivering one or two packages to multiple residents, a time-consuming process that could easily affect delivery performance, he said.

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.