The U.S. Postal Service announced that beginning Nov. 17, it will provide seven-day package delivery to major cities and high-volume areas during the holiday season, including Christmas Day, in response to expected double-digit package volume growth.
“During the holidays, no carrier makes more deliveries to more places than the Postal Service, and this year, we’re raising the bar with enhanced tracking and Sunday delivery,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a press release. “Every household in America relies on us to get their packages in time for the holidays, and we take great pride in taking on that responsibility. We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to deliver for our customers.”
Rob Martinez, CEO of Shipware, said while 7-day a week delivery between Thanksgiving and Christmas certainly is an advantage over the private carriers that offer five day a week delivery, the Postal Service really has no choice.
“Without the additional delivery days, it would almost certainly fall behind,” said Martinez. “Once you do, it’s very difficult to catch back up.”
Martinez said Saturday and Sunday deliveries were a very important part of their package delivery strategy last December, and the agency is forecasting 12-14% increases this year.
“With the incredible growth of parcel select services, new lower Priority Mail pricing, and shippers looking for alternative delivery options, the Postal Service will be extremely busy this holiday season,” said Martinez.
Martinez is predicting it will handle well over half a billion packages this holiday season and he hopes that the Postal Service is prepared to handle those volumes in order to avoid a public relations fiasco.
With online retailers shipping more products to their customers, the demand for package service has grown. The USPS is adding package delivery on Sundays to prepare for the heavy shipping season.
“I think it’s a great idea and a great strategic move on the part of the Postal Service,” said Doug Caldwell, vice president of AFMS Global Logistics Group. “Packages have really been a shining star for the Postal Service for some time now, and they have been delivering packages on Sunday on an informal basis for a few years. It has been more of a reactive thing in the past during the peak season. Sunday makes a lot of sense.”
Caldwell said he thinks this is a preemptive move to make sure that the late-delivery issues which plagued UPS and FedEx just before Christmas 2013 – affecting an estimated 2 million parcels – don’t happen to the USPS.
“You can do all the forecasting you want, but you don’t know what you are going to get until those packages come through the door,” said Caldwell. “I think it’s a good strategic move. It makes sense all the way around.”
Due to its continued ecommerce growth and improvements to its Priority Mail product line, the USPS is expecting its package business this holiday season to be in the range of 450 to 470 million packages. This would represent 12% growth over the same period last year.
“The ecommerce package business continues to be a big player now more than ever, so we’ve enhanced our network to ensure America that we’ll deliver their cards, gifts and letters in time for the holidays,” said Donahoe.
Unlike its competitors, the USPS has also lowered some of its prices for businesses and frequent shippers. The new Priority Mail pricing offers affordable shipping options along with improved tracking for business customers.