Walmart and other retailers have made the Christmas shipping deadline earlier this year.
Shipping companies are over capacity this year and struggling to keep up.
Experts recommended ordering as early as possible, and it’s already to late to get Christmas presents from most online retailers.
Shopping looks different in 2020, and shipping companies are playing catch up to keep up with the constant push of e-commerce orders. For those still buying Christmas gifts, it might be too late to order at all.
IBM’s US Retail Index estimates that physical store closures and lockdowns because of COVID-19 expedited the shift to e-commerce over physical stores by about five years, putting a strain on shipping capabilities.
Retailers started warning customers about the last day to order for Christmas delivery, with deadlines earlier than last year’s nearly across the board. E-commerce experts have called this chaos “shipageddon” and warned that delays may be inevitable. Walmart said for two-day delivery, customers should place orders by 2 p.m. on December 19, and for one-day delivery, they should order by 2 p.m. on December 21.
Walmart’s 2020 deadlines are earlier than in 2019, when the last day to order for two-day shipping in time for Christmas in most zip codes was December 22 and next-day shipping was December 23. To meet increasing demand, Walmart has added express delivery to 2800 stores started fulfilling some orders directly from stores, a spokesperson told Business Insider by email.
E-commerce giant Amazon hasn’t changed its holiday shipping advisory from last year’s. In both 2020 and 2019, customers had until December 23 to order one-day delivery items for Christmas. December 24 is the last day for same-day delivery and the last chance for two-hour grocery delivery.
Experts have been warning about holiday shipping delays this year since at least October when shipping companies FedEx and UPS told retailers that they were nearing capacity. E-commerce sales traditionally take off around Black Friday, and on Cyber Monday UPS told drivers to stop picking up deliveries from some major retailers, Paul Ziobro at The Wall Street Journal reported. The internal message told drivers to stop pickups from Gap, LL Bean, Hot Topic, Macy’s, Newegg, and Macy’s,” with “no exception” until the shipping giant had more capacity.
Since Thanksgiving, UPS and FedEx have both started putting daily limits on how many packages they will pickup, creating backlogs in some warehouses, according to a WSJ report. Enforcing these limits is partially how the shipping companies have kept up with record numbers of packages – ShipMatrix data shows the FedEx, UPS, and USPS all had over 95% on-time delivery between October 1 and November 21, with UPS leading.
Shipping companies have also increased their capacity, hiring more employees and acquiring other shipping companies. UPS hired 100,000 temporary workers and 39,000 seasonal workers this year, and FedEx bought e-commerce platform ShopRunner. Walmart is a FedEx customer, while Amazon uses UPS, according to WSJ.
For anyone with shopping left to do, it’s likely already too late. Shoppers should order by December 15 at the latest, and 2.5 million packages might still take an extra few days to be delivered, ShipMatrix president Satish Jindel told WSJ.
The last day to order packages for Christmas with standard shipping has already passed for many retailers, including Best Buy and Home Depot. See Business Insider’s full list of shipping deadlines here.
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