The Nightmare AFTER Christmas

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Even with Santa’s helpers (FedEx, U.S. Postal Service, and UPS), not all presents were delivered on time this holiday season.

Because the consumer trend of online shopping has reached an all-time high and the quantity of items ordered exceeded the amount anticipated, delivery services were overwhelmed and blamed the backlog on an unprecedented increase in online sales.

Retailers have been too successful in their quest to increase e-Commerce, making them reconsider the prices of both online goods and shipping expenses in order to decrease online shopping by a fraction. Statistics showed that 11% of all e-Commerce were spent via Mobile. In an age where the vast majority of people own a smartphone or other portable device, online shopping has become the norm.

For this holiday season in particular, our online shopping tendencies have consequently impacted the speed of delivery services.

Officials at the U.S. Postal Service anticipated around a 12% increase in packages during the holiday season, but were not prepared for the realistic 19% increase — thus prompting them to add Sunday deliveries to their normal Monday-Saturday schedule. Similarly, UPS was drastically underprepared for the amount of packages that needed to be delivered. Even after hiring an additional 55,000 employees for the season, they were unable to keep up with demand.

In a company statement, UPS said that “the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed.”

Even with the knowledge of the backlog, UPS stuck to their original plan to not deliver on Christmas day and wait until Thursday to finish shipping customer’s items. The company, “after much thought and consideration,” decided not to ask their employees to cover that shift, saying that “they’ve pulled in extra hours. We did a lot of Sunday deliveries, which we normally don’t do,” spokeswoman Natalie Black told CNN.

These workers put in a great effort to send out as many packages before Christmas as possible. FedEx handled 275 million shipments between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Scott Fielder, a spokesman for FedEx said and UPS said that in the week preceding Christmas, they had delivered an estimated 132 million packages.

Not only did the increase in online shopping and sales itself effect the delays, but the shift (time-wise) in online shopping also contributed to this dilemma. Because Thanksgiving fell later in the year than normal, people had not anticipated the smaller gap of time to shop between the two holidays, thus impacting the quantity of rushed packages that jammed delivery services.

Only a small percentage of the overall amount of packages that needed to be shipped before the holiday were delayed, but it was enough to afflict many families.

Amends are trying to be made with customers who were affected by this year’s backlog. For instance, Amazon is giving out gift cards to make up for the delayed shipments and are reimbursing their customers for shipping expenses.

A combination of many circumstances including service logistics, an increase in the use of mobile devices, weather hindrances, and 6 less days to shop between the two holidays all contributed to this problem.

An ample amount of work went into delivering as many packages before Christmas as possible and workers exerted themselves to quickly finish the deliveries directly afterwards.

Things might not have gone Santa’s way this year, but hopefully improvements are made before next year to accommodate for the growing amount of online shoppers.

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