DHL’s eCommerce Solutions unit stopped accepting new U.S. customers on Aug. 1, two months earlier than usual, because of projected peak-season volume surges and continued uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, DHL confirmed Tuesday.
In an email to FreightWaves, DHL Spokesman Daniel McGrath said the unit typically stops new U.S. customer on-boarding on Oct. 1 so it can prepare for peak-season activity. The decision to move up the cutoff date this year was “to ensure we can abide and maintain all our commitments and expected levels of service to our existing customers,” McGrath said in the email. The unit will resume regular customer on-boarding during the first quarter, he added.
The DHL unit expects U.S. small-package volumes to increase 30% to 50% this peak compared to 2019 levels, McGrath said.
DHL’s air express unit, DHL Express, is predicting a 50% year-over-year increase in peak traffic to the U.S. from international origin points, according to McGrath. DHL Express is not turning away any prospective customers, McGrath said.
DHL Express ceased domestic U.S. service in January 2009. DHL continues to serve the U.S. as part of its international air network of 220 countries. Most of DHL’s U.S. traffic is inbound into the country, McGrath said. DHL Express has its own fleet of freighters.
Most DHL customers will ship during its traditional peak period of Thanksgiving through Christmas, McGrath said. Some customers, however, may ship earlier should they accelerate the launch of holiday promotions, he added.
Virtually everyone involved with peak-season planning has predicted an unprecedented cycle this year, especially for e-commerce, as the holiday shopping and shipping frenzy converges with highly elevated adoption of online ordering as a result of the pandemic.