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Will gifts arrive in time for Christmas? Target, Macy’s, other stores offering same-day delivery for holiday rush

Will gifts arrive in time for Christmas? Target, Macy's, other stores offering same-day delivery for holiday rush

Charisse Jones
 
| USA TODAY
These are your deadlines for Amazon gifts to arrive by ChristmasThe holidays can become the worst time of the year for those that procrastinate. Speedy delivery services can be your best friend.In a year full of unknowns, one thing is clear: This holiday season, you might want to shop fast and ship early. On top of the typical holiday crush, carriers ranging from the U.S. Postal Service to UPS will be ferrying millions of packages to shoppers who’ve made online shopping their go-to for daily purchases amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered stores and confined many largely to their homes. And demand for delivery will likely only grow now that COVID-19 cases are surging across the U.S., spurring lawmakers to ponder new restrictions and holiday travelers to stay put and mail their gifts instead.  “This holiday season, like everything else in 2020 is … going to be unprecedented,” says Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx Corporation. “We were at holiday level volumes in March and April. So now … you’ve got a peak on top of a peak.”Target’s Cyber Monday sale: Target reveals Cyber Week sale will start Sunday and Cyber Monday will have new ‘Flash Sales’Curbside pickup grows amid pandemic:  Here are 60 retailers offering curbside pickup on Black Friday for online ordersStores are expanding curbside and in-store pickup to more quickly get items into customers’ hands. And delivery services are hiring historic numbers of seasonal workers, ratcheting up space to sort packages, and asking retailers to make sure shoppers have realistic expectations about how soon they’ll receive their purchases.”That’s really the key,” Carere says, “to be transparent with consumers about when their packages will arrive. That’s far more critical than anything else this holiday season.’’An avalanche of packages To be sure, delivery services will have their hands full. Online holiday sales are expected to trounce previous records, leaping 33% over 2019 to $189 billion in the U.S., according to Adobe Analytics.Online spending records are expected to topple every 24 hours, edging above $2 billion each day between Nov. 1 through Nov. 21, then growing to $3 billion a day up to Dec. 3, Adobe says.   And as Americans are encouraged to limit travel and in-person gatherings due to the pandemic, Adobe predicts they will send presents directly to 18% more people this year, increasing the pressure on delivery pipelines. “This has been an extraordinary year of unprecedented challenges given the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Postal Service is expecting significant volume increases, which are difficult to predict,” says spokeswoman Kimberly Frum.And now COVID-19 cases are rising across the U.S., prompting local and state officials to once again close businesses and advise residents to stay home.”As a result of shelter-in-place orders and the closure of nonessential businesses, holiday logistics will become increasingly strained,” says Rob Garf, vice president of industry insights for retail and consumer goods for Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform.Skip delivery. Pick it up yourselfEarlier this year, before the current virus spike, Salesforce forecast that the number of packages needing to be delivered would likely surpass the global capacity to ship them by 5%. That would potentially delay up to 700 million packages this holiday season.To ease some of the worry about packages arriving on time, retailers are boosting their curbside and in-store pickup options. Nordstrom, for instance, on Oct. 26 began extending the hours to pick up packages curbside. Shoppers could pull up and pick up giftwrapped items as well starting Nov. 1.And Target is adding 8,000 drive-up spots at stores across the country to accommodate shoppers who order online but want to skip the wait for delivery.“Retailers have really pivoted to meet the increased demand in online shopping and the use of curbside pickup or buy online and pickup at store … will all be major features of what we’ll see this holiday season,’’ Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, said in a call about the trade group’s holiday sales forecast.There are other options as well. Target’s Shipt service offers same-day delivery. And Macy’s uses DoorDash to drop off in the same timeframe. Like many other retailers, Macy’s also offers options to pick up items in person. Retailers are taking advantage of their physical stores to speed up the movement of online purchases.”We … anticipate shipping millions of items out the back of our local stores which reduces the distance and time it takes for delivery,” says Target spokeswoman Jacqueline DeBuse.Having numerous delivery choices was “very or extremely important” to 52% of shoppers during Thanksgiving weekend, according to consultancy Deloitte, as compared to 44% who valued that in 2019.But shoppers still weren’t eager to pay more to speed up the drop-off of a package. Among those surveyed by Deloitte, 65% of those making purchases online said they preferred standard delivery.That means time is of the essence.”We anticipate .. retailers will move their shipping cutoff date for online orders into early December to avoid late deliveries and disappointed shoppers,” Garf says. Who is hiring? FedEx, UPSTo meet demand, delivery companies are bringing on thousands of new employees. FedEx is hiring 70,000 workers for the holiday season, the most ever. UPS will hire more than 100,000 temporary employees to get through the end-of-the-year rush.UPS is also asking its biggest customers to space out shipping so that there isn’t a deluge on the days that typically experience the heaviest volume. And it’s counting on an expanded air fleet – and the addition this year of roughly 5 million square feet of space to automatically sort parcels – to handle demand.   FedEx is dropping off packages seven days a week, a change it announced last year but more quickly expanded to most of the country because of the pandemic and “to make sure we had the capacity for this holiday season,’’ Carere says.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service routinely hires more workers at the local level when needed, Frum says. It also makes Sunday deliveries throughout the holiday season in most big cities, and typically expands Sunday delivery starting the first weekend after Thanksgiving in areas where volume is high. “We are committed to making sure gifts and cards are delivered on time to celebrate the holidays,” Frum says.Still, the Postal Service is not making big changes to its schedule.”Most of our shipping dates are the same as last year,” Frum says. “Any change is only one to two days earlier.”New habits may become old hat       Clicking a keyboard to shop was accelerating even before a global health crisis that made online shopping necessary as many stores temporarily closed. FedEx previously forecast e-commerce would generate roughly 100 million packages a day by 2026.”Fast forward to today,” FedEx’s Carere says. “We now think we’ll hit 100 million packages a day for the industry by 2023.”New buying habits have increased the number of boxes needing to be dropped at shoppers’ homes. During the pandemic, more Americans went online to order desks and other big furniture items that they normally would have browsed in person. And those changing delivery demands may stick around long after the pandemic has passed, Carere says.”I believe these new norms we’re building in our lives will last beyond the holiday season and not reverse course once we have a vaccine,’’ Carere says.Christmas shipping deadlines 2020The best bet is to ship as soon as possible this holiday season, experts say. Here are key deadlines to keep in mind if you want your packages to arrive by Christmas.  UPS deadlines for Christmas deliveryGround – Dec. 153-Day Select – Dec. 212nd Day Air – Dec. 22Next Day Air – Dec. 23U.S. Postal Service deadlinesHere are the deadlines for packages to arrive before Christmas in the 48 contiguous states:Retail Ground – Dec. 15First-Class Mail – Dec. 18Priority Mail – Dec.19 Priority Mail Express – Dec. 23Alaska USPS deadlinesAlaska to Continental U.S., First-Class Mail – Dec. 18Alaska to Continental U.S., Priority Mail – Dec. 19Alaska to Continental U.S., Priority Mail Express – Dec. 21 Hawaii USPS deadlinesHawaii to mainland, Priority and First-Class Mail – Dec. 15Hawaii to mainland, Priority Mail Express – Dec. 21FedEx deadlines for Christmas deliveryThe following deadlines are for within the U.S.:FedEx SmartPost – Dec. 9FedEx Home Delivery – Dec. 15FedEx Ground – Dec. 15FedEx Express Saver – Dec. 21FedEx 3Day Freight – Dec. 21FedEx 2Day –  Dec. 22FedEx 2Day –  Dec. 22FedEx 2Day Freight – Dec. 22FedEx 1Day Freight –  Dec. 23FedEx Extra Hours –  Dec. 23FedEx Standard Overnight –  Dec. 23FedEx Priority Overnight –  Dec. 23FedEx First Overnight –  Dec. 23FedEx SameDay –  Dec. 25FedEx SameDay City Priority – Dec. 25FedEx SameDay City Direct – Dec. 25Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones

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