Cyber Weekend Surge Causing UPS Delays

UPS said there will be delivery delays through the middle of this week due to a deluge in ecommerce orders beginning on Cyber Monday and in the days following, Bloomberg is reporting.

The orders on in those days exceeded projections, UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told Bloomberg, causing a “bubble” to develop at certain package centers. Heavy volumes forced one- or two-day delays for on some orders from last week, even as UPS worked over the weekend to play catch-up.

Gaut told Bloomberg that much of the backlog has been cleared up, and the company doesn’t expect to miss Christmas deadlines because of it.

“As a result of unprecedented shipping volumes in certain markets during cyber week, UPS has added one- or two-days time-in-transit on some deliveries,” said UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor. “We have shifted more employees and other resources to these markets to address this Cyber Week surge and expect to have the issue resolved by midweek, this week.”

During peak season this year, UPS expects to process nearly double its normal average daily volume of more than 19 million packages and documents, O’Connor said. This year’s seasonal volume forecast is about 752 million packages, or 5% more than the 712 million packages handled last year.

The delays came in spite of UPS making massive investments in its network, technology and facilities over the past few years, following a disastrous 2013 holiday season, and again hiring 95,000 temporary workers. The company also has many drivers working 70 hours over an eight-day period to handle the crush, compared to a typical 60 hours over seven days, causing labor rumblings from the Teamsters union that represents them.

The delays from UPS were in line with findings from ShipMatrix, which tracks carrier performance based on data from its network. According to ShipMatrix, parcels shipped from thousands of addresses via UPS Express service between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2 were on time 76.3% of the time. Even UPS’s Deferred service was impacted, with an 83.6% on-time performance.

“If adjusted for delivery by end of day, which is more relevant for this time of the holiday season, UPS Express service was at 89.2% performance,” said Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix. “With consumers placing record-breaking online orders on Cyber Monday this year, our data shows that the orders picked up by UPS on Monday and Tuesday of last week experienced the worst on-time service.”

By comparison, FedEx Express service was at 94.6% by time of day and 99.4% by end of day, with deferred service at 97.8%. O’Connor said UPS does not comment on third-party estimates.

Jindel said ShipMatrix data also showed that while delivery to access points for pickup is being embraced by consumers, more than 40% of orders shipped to one are not being picked up by customers until a day or more later. “This would suggest that service delays this far ahead of Christmas are not a concern to the end customers,” Jindel said.

Both carriers have been aggressively expanding their pickup location programs, with UPS tapping local small businesses while FedEx has partnered with Walgreens, along with their own stores.

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