UPS preps for busy holiday shipping season

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UPS announced that it expects to deliver more than 120 million packages around the world this year in just the last week before Christmas, up more than 6 percent compared to the 113 million delivered during last year’s “peak week.” The company says the growth demonstrates anew the recent trend of people delaying online shopping until just before Christmas.

Before the explosion of e-commerce, the holiday peak season stretched from Thanksgiving to Christmas; now, it’s been compressed to the last two weeks before Christmas. This year, in an underscoring of the trend, UPS is projecting it will see five different days on which its deliveries will approach or exceed 25 million, all within the last 10 days before Christmas. Last year, there was only one day on which deliveries surpassed 25 million.

A delivery volume of 25 million packages represents a 60 percent increase compared to UPS’s normal daily volume of 15.6 million and amounts to the delivery of almost 300 packages every second of the day. The 2011 shipping season will reach its apex Dec. 22, UPS’s peak shipping day, when the company projects its delivery volume worldwide will approach 26 million. UPS projects its peak air day this year will be Friday, Dec. 23, with more than 6 million deliveries of air packages on that day compared to a normal air volume of 3 million.

To handle all those packages, UPS will be hiring 55,000 seasonal employees across the United States this year to work either as driver helpers or package sorters, loaders or unloaders. The company is projecting its busiest tracking day of the season will occur on Dec. 20 with more than 58 million online package tracking requests.

“Early indications point to a solid holiday shopping and shipping season,” says Alan Gershenhorn, UPS chief sales and marketing officer. “To handle the holiday rush and maintain the reliability that’s needed when shopping close to Christmas, we’re flexing every part of our global small package network. And this year we’re excited because it will be the first season we’ve offered UPS My Choice service, which gives our U.S. residential customers visibility and control of their arriving shipments.”