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UPS, Postal Service excelled during peak delivery season, consultant says

FedEx lagged considerably with performance below last year’s levels, according to ShipMatrix

UPS Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service turned in stellar delivery performances during the peak  holiday season, while FedEx Corp. lagged, according to data published late Friday by consultancy ShipMatrix Inc.

UPS (NYSE: UPS) delivered 96.9% of all parcels within its stated commitment times throughout the peak cycle, while the Postal Service delivered 96.5% of its parcels on time, according to ShipMatrix data. FedEx (NYSE: FDX) delivered 88.2% of its parcels within its stated commitment times. The peak cycle ran from Nov. 28 to Christmas Eve.

UPS’ 2021 performance was slightly better than its 2020 results, according to the data. The Postal Service, which invested heavily in additional facilities, labor and parcel sorting equipment for the 2021 cycle, experienced significant improvement over 2020, when it delivered 93.2% of its parcels on time. FedEx, beset over the past two quarters by staffing shortages that disrupted its ground-delivery network, dropped considerably from 2020, when it delivered 95.1% of its parcels on time.

All three carriers performed well in delivering shipments by Christmas Eve as long as parcels were tendered by the carriers’ recommended deadlines, ShipMatrix said. UPS delivered 99.6% of those parcels on time, UPS came in at 99.1% and FedEx at 98.1%. ShipMatrix President Satish Jindel said the results were “very impressive” in light of mid-December’s nationwide labor shortages and worker absenteeism related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The carriers’ performance was aided by consumers who shopped earlier than usual and did more of their buying at stores, according to Jindel. This allowed the carriers to extend their delivery schedules and smooth out the traditional volatility that came with processing mountains of parcels tendered late in the cycle.

In addition, with more holiday merchandise delivered to stores to support brick-and-mortar shopping, carriers could 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, Jindel said.

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.