Buyers hoping to buy Christmas gifts online this year may need to prepare well in advance for their purchases. Many retailers set shorter deadlines for goods ordered online to reach customers before Christmas.
Frères Branchiaux Candle Press co-founder Celena Gill has designated November 30 as the last day for customers to place their orders if they want the scented soy candles to arrive before Christmas. “We have already seen a delay in shipments this month and expect it to be worse as Christmas Day approaches,” said Gill. She declined to comment on last year’s deadline.
State, a New York-based baggage company, is halting the Christmas expedition three days earlier than last year’s December 18 deadline. says Jacqueline Tatelman.
FedEx and the United States Postal Service have set ground shipping times for December 15, the same as last year’s delivery times, although there is still a day between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. UPS provides estimated delivery times on its website based on time, location and shipping services.
By some estimates, there could be nearly 5 million more packages per day that delivery drivers cannot handle during peak season, when unit volumes can double. And, FedEx has previously reported issues for its ground unit, which processed more than 9.3 million packages per day for customers including Walmart in the last quarter. In September, the Memphis-based company warned that issues with hiring and retaining employees were slowing deliveries.
There could be nearly 5 million more packages per day than delivery drivers can handle.
UPS, the world’s largest parcel delivery company, is abandoning low-profit customers – a move that could hit vulnerable retailers. On the flip side, UPS will be making nationwide deliveries on Saturday this year and taking several other steps to minimize “chaos costs” and improve on-time service, UPS general manager Carol Tome said.
Retailers typically use delivery deadlines as a competitive differentiator, and normally push them as far as possible to attract last-minute shoppers. But this strategy carries additional risks this year, especially for smaller stores vulnerable to bad customer reviews. And, in a year marked by hurricanes and other severe storms, there is little wiggle room for other unforeseen disruptions due to factors such as bad winter weather.
But this year, retailers large and small are encouraging customers to buy early to shift demand and facilitate supply chain safeguards. Some shoppers are in panic that the grunts from the supply chain spill over to door-to-door delivery of Christmas gifts, Tome said in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday.
“In fact, some believe 50% of holiday shopping will be complete by Cyber Monday,” Tome said. “Some of our customers are actually pulling off promotions,” she said, referring to previous Christmas marketing messages from retailers that have resulted in increased demand.
For example, UPS started working with Amazon, its biggest customer, several months ago. Nonetheless, it will reapply volume limits and fail to collect all requested packages if an unexpected volume threatens to flood its system – a move that hit retailers like Gap, Macy’s and Nike last year.
Walmart, Target, and Amazon have early Black Friday deals and encourage customers to use delivery services like DoorDash.
Shopify encourages its merchants to update their shipping policy pages to highlight delays and lower expectations. The company also suggests that merchants offer Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales earlier and incorporate local delivery options and curbside pickup for physical merchants.
Meanwhile, Etsy has improved its delivery date estimates to promote sales and reduce uncertainty for its community of sellers of homemade or vintage products. “Almost every item from a US seller will include an estimated delivery date during the holiday season,” Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said in a blog post.
Major retailers, including Walmart, Target, Amazon, Macy’s and Best Buy, haven’t announced their final delivery deadlines, but they are promoting options to reduce stress on the system. They offer early and extended Black Friday deals and encourage customers to use concert delivery services like DoorDash and Shipt or “buy online, pick up in store” options.
Last year, Walmart announced its mid-December delivery times, while Amazon notified customers in late November that eligible products were available for two-day and one-day shipping on December 23 and Christmas Eve.