Experts predict holiday shipping crunch amid pandemic

artisteer/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Holiday shopping and shipping amid the pandemic could come with new problems, which is why some companies are increasing staff to meet the new demand.

With more Americans reluctant to return to physical stores, and moving online to do their shopping, experts predict that the busy retail season ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas will lead to a greater influx of shipped packages and possible delivery delays.

Shipmetrix estimates that between the two major upcoming holidays more than 79 million packages a day will be shipped, compared to 65 million last year.

“As a result of COVID, we’ve got three years of growth in about six months,” Brie Carere, chief marketing officer for FedEx, told ABC News.

FedEx has added 70,000 new jobs in anticipation of the high volumes and gave the holiday season a new nickname.

“The entire U.S. domestic shipping industry has been at peak-like levels, since March. Now on top of those levels, we’re heading into our holiday shopping season,” Carere said. “You’ve got a peak volume on top of peak volume, so we’re calling it a ‘ship-athon.'”

“We had to add days of service, we are now shipping across the United States on Sundays serving 95% of the population,” she added.

Even small businesses have moved online due to the pandemic, including big-box retailers.

In order to avoid any major delays, experts now encourage consumers to shop and ship early.

“You see a deal, you should buy it early and definitely give yourself a lot of time,” Ben Fox Rubin, a senior reporter at CNET told ABC News.

Consumer and retail research expert Hitha Herzog advised that it’s best to plan ahead.

“You don’t know whether or not you’re going to see your loved ones, friends and family — So I think the American consumer wants to get all of those gifts all planned out and sent off before it gets to crunch time,” she said.

Both the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx told ABC News they have pushed up some of their delivery cutoff dates for select services by a few days to ensure that presents arrive on time.

“This is not the time to be a last-minute shopper, particularly this year,” Rubin said.

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