Signed, sealed, eventually delivered

It will get to you—be patient

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 12/23/20

REGION — If it seems like packages are shipping slower than usual... well, you’re right. 

The week of December 14 to 21 was the peak of package-mailing time, and Adobe Analytics …

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Signed, sealed, eventually delivered

It will get to you—be patient

Posted

REGION — If it seems like packages are shipping slower than usual... well, you’re right. 

The week of December 14 to 21 was the peak of package-mailing time, and Adobe Analytics predicts online sales of $189 billion, up 33 percent over last year.

The system is strained.

“Shipping delays are happening because of the huge increase in the volume of packages that are being shipped,” said Kerri Lee-Sensiba, owner and creator behind Long Eddy-based Tree By Kerri Lee, which crafts and sells baby gifts and decor. “There are just so many more packages moving through UPS, FedEx and USPS that all their systems and people are struggling to process that volume, even with increased staffing and capacity.” 

The USPS added 50,000 employees to deal with the holiday crunch. FedEx hired 70,000 workers nationwide. UPS added 100,000 jobs. 

“The huge increase in package volume is due to the increase in online orders that need to be shipped, which is due to the general increase in online shopping happening every year,” said Lee-Sensiba. “But then add on top of that a pandemic that has forced people to order many more items online that they’d usually get in-person at stores.”

And there may be fewer employees coping. 

In a December 14 release, the U.S. Postal Service cited smaller staff numbers due to COVID-19, whether they’re ill themselves, quarantining, or caring for others.

There’s more. “Parcel shippers have invested in facilities, vehicles and people based on pre-pandemic history and growth predictions,” said Heather Clark, business operations manager at the Narrowsburg Union. “When you experience a sudden dramatic increase in demand, it takes time to increase facilities, vehicles and people to meet [it]. The parcel shippers have been working continuously on these challenges since the pandemic began.”

People can be hired, but adding infrastructure is harder. “There still remains the issue of the same facilities and vehicles trying to handle the sudden dramatic increase in demand,” Clark said. The same trucks, same buildings, same machines processing the packages. “It is like trying to push more water through the same pipe.” 

The postal service added hours “in select locations,” expanded delivery times and purchased new equipment, the release added. 

Another complication, Clark added, is that more people have relocated here. “Pre-pandemic, in rural areas like ours, parcel shippers already have many miles between drop-offs and pickups. With the uptick in rural populations (due to folks leaving cities or the more densely populated parts of the state), there are more stops for the parcel shippers’ rural routes.” 

So not only are more packages in transit, but deliveries take longer out here. 

Delays are happening nationwide, of course.  

“Orders we’ve shipped are definitely taking longer than usual to get to their destination,” said Lee-Sensiba. “But I believe that companies large and small, and UPS and FedEx and the post office, are all working very hard and doing their best to get everyone’s orders to them.”

Clark added her support for delivery services. “We have to say that the drivers of all these four parcel shippers [USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL] have been fantastic throughout these challenging times. They remain on time, courteous, professional and so very gracious despite the additional pressures they undeniably are facing in doing their job day-to-day during this pandemic. The holiday season is now adding to their challenges and we know they do not want to disappoint their customers.”

What’s important right now is understanding and patience. “We’re thanking our customers for their patience,” Kerri Lee-Sensiba said, “and I’m reminding myself that, especially this year, there are more important things than packages arriving on time.”

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