A flood of mail and online holiday purchases is overwhelming the U.S. shipping system. An estimated 6 million packages a day are being left stranded, sitting idle in retailers’ warehouses or shipping centers and awaiting pick up by FedEx, UPS, Amazon, U.S. Postal Service and other shippers.
That’s according to estimates from ShipMatrix, a software company that helps retailers and others track shipments and that collects data on millions of packages sent from over 100,000 locations in the U.S. Another 2.5 million packages are being picked up daily but are not reaching their destinations on time, the data show.
“Our entire industry is underwater because of the demand,” said Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix. Friday will likely be the last day consumers can ship things by regular mail so they arrive by Christmas, he said.
The gridlock is curtailing the holiday shopping season, frustrating shoppers and retailers, as well as potentially hurting the economy as the recovery from theappears to be sputtering. Some experts are warning that packages that have not yet been mailed will not reach their destination using standard shipping before the Christmas holiday.
Another industry insider with access to internal data from a major shipping company told CBS MoneyWatch that the number of packages not being picked up each day is far higher this holiday season than in past years. A large winter stormcould mean more delays.
Both FedEx and UPS declined to disclose how many packages are delayed in transit. A spokesperson for UPS said that 96% of its shipments have arrived on time this holiday season. But that figure only includes the packages that UPS picked up — not the ones it missed.
“This is one of the most successful peak holiday shipping seasons ever as we focus on maintaining a reliable delivery network that all of our customers can depend on,” a UPS spokesman told CBS MoneyWatch in an emailed statement.
“Data provided by third-party consultants can vary widely based on the specific markets, customers and shipping lanes they choose for their analyses,” a FedEx spokesperson said by email. She also said that the company’s role in helping to distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is not affecting regular shipments, noting that the company is using a separate fleet of trucks and airplanes for that effort.
“As stated previously, we continue to work closely with our customers to manage their volume and help ensure we provide the best possible service,” the FedEx spokesperson added.
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