A later Thanksgiving holiday has created a shorter shipping season and less time to get gifts going to recipients.
“The compressed period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year affects the shipping season because people will not be able to procrastinate shipping out a holiday item. There are six fewer shipping days than last year,” said Christine Coughlin, who owns US 30 Postal Express along with family members.
The business is an authorized FedEx drop-off location and offers FedEx, U.S. Postal Service and DHL delivery services as well as freight shipping for items more than 150 pounds.
“We expect to move between 500 and 750 packages during the peak season: Nov. 1 through Dec. 23.”
The Postal Service has said it expects to deliver 420 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, up 12 percent from the same period a year ago, with Dec. 16 as its expected busiest mailing day.
UPS said the compressed period likely will increase volume intensity in those weeks and it expects to pick up 34 million packages on its peak day, also Dec. 16.
Ensuring delivery by Christmas depends on the shipping method, Coughlin said, with date ranges from Dec. 13 to 21 for U.S. Postal Service and Dec. 17 to 23 for FedEx. Presents needing to go to international destinations need to be on their way by Dec. 18 for Postal Service, FedEx and DHL services.
“Procrastinating shipping an item will only cost you money in the end,” she said. “For those shipping presents, just remember to package fragile and electronic items well to ensure they will arrive in one piece. Ground packages have to survive a four-foot drop off a conveyor belt.
“When in doubt, double or triple box it. Insurance is recommended for all items, and is a minimal charge just in case a shipment is lost or damaged.”
Another date to mark on the calendar is Dec. 18, which is also known as Free Shipping Day. This one-day, online-shopping event was launched in 2008 and allows shoppers to receive free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve through participating merchants.
“We had just 250 retailers sign up for the first event in 2008, and last year over 1,700 participated,” said Kendal Perez, spokesperson for Free Shipping Day. “This year, we expect around 1,000 retailers to sign up because we’ve made participation requirements stricter. Namely, stores have to offer free shipping with no minimum order requirement in addition to guaranteeing delivery by Christmas Eve.
“The event is scheduled one day later than last year's event, making it the ultimate holiday for procrastinating shoppers,” Perez said.
New stores are added daily and some retailers request their logos not appear until the official day. All the offers are revealed Dec. 18 at www.FreeShippingDay.com.
“Many people abandon their online shopping carts when they find out they have to pay for shipping,” Perez said. “Free Shipping Day not only helps shoppers dodge delivery fees on last-minute gifts, it also provides peace of mind that gifts will arrive by Christmas Eve.
Coughlin said her business is offering its own promotion Dec. 18.
“We are boxing and packaging your items for free. All you pay is the shipping cost,” she said. “Active military members and their families also receive discounts year-round for shipments to APO addresses.”
While the holiday calendar may be condensed this year, the spirit of the season should remain the same, Coughlin added.
“The holiday season is an exciting time of year and planning ahead is critical to packages arriving on time. Just remember what is really important during this time of year … ,” Coughlin said. “If the Zoomer Robodog, Fun Loom or newest Christmas fad you bought for your niece or nephew arrives the day after Christmas, in 20 years they aren't going to be in therapy because of it.”