The holidays are a-coming again, despite all the twists and turns 2020 threw at us. THE crucial element this year is: preparation. Know the carrier deadlines, plan for unexpected fluctuations, be ready for higher-than-normal returns, and get those promotions running with plenty of lead time.

This year's holiday package volumes are expected to be fierce, with COVID's influence on online shopping increasing U.S. package volumes. A DigitalCommerce 360 report indicates that online holiday sales will be up 34% from last year's season. Being as prepared as possible is well advised.  

3 Quick Tips for this year's holiday volumes

SA Consulting's Scott Ackerman offers 3 quick tips for e-commerce businesses heading into this year's holiday landscape:

  1. Know what the carrier (FedEx/UPS/USPS) cut-off times and dates are to guarantee delivery before Black Friday and Christmas. This year is a little different, however, due to coronavirus because the carriers aren't guaranteeing service levels.
  1. Plan to adjust your preferred shipping methods as you get closer to the carrier cut-off dates. This year December 24 is on a Thursday, so you need to ship 2-day for anything leaving on December 22 before the cut-off time and overnight for anything leaving on December 23 before the cut-off time.
  1. Plan any shipping promotions in advance. If you are going to offer free or discounted shipping, make sure that your marketing plan is aligned. It takes time to have search and social media ad campaigns approved. And make sure your website is updated with the correct rates and methods on the right dates and times. 

SHIPPERS BEWARE: Prepare for an influx of returns this holiday 

2020 Holiday Deadlines - FedEx, UPS, & USPS

Below are the deadlines and holiday schedules for FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Remember to plan as early as possible and communicate clearly with customers as they order to expect delays. 

FedEx 2020 Holiday Schedule

Service

Domestic Shipping Cut-Off Date

FedEx SameDay® City Priority

Friday, December 25

FedEx SameDay®

Friday, December 25

FedEx First Overnight®

Wednesday, December 23

FedEx Priority Overnight®

Wednesday, December 23

FedEx Standard Overnight®

Wednesday, December 23

FedEx Extra Hours®

Wednesday, December 23

FedEx 1Day® Freight

Wednesday, December 23

FedEx 2Day® Freight

Tuesday, December 22

FedEx 3Day® Freight

Monday, December 21

FedEx 2Day® A.M.

Tuesday, December 22

FedEx 2Day®

Tuesday, December 22

FedEx Express Saver®

Monday, December 21

FedEx Ground®

Tuesday, December 15

FedEx Home Delivery®

Tuesday, December 15

FedEx SmartPost®

Wednesday, December 9

 

NOTE FROM FEDEX:
The FedEx Freight no-fee money-back guarantee will be suspended for shipments with required delivery dates of Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, through Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. 3 During this time, FedEx Freight will continue to provide normal pickup and delivery, except on Dec.

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UPS 2020 Holiday Schedule

UPS Closed

Thursday, December 24

Friday, December 25 

Friday, January 1 

 

UPS Open with Modified Service

Thursday, December 31



NOTE FROM UPS:  
Guaranteed Service Update: The UPS Freight No-Fee Guarantee will be suspended for shipments with a scheduled delivery date of Wednesday, December 16, 2020 through Monday, January 4, 2021. LTL Guaranteed, LTL Guaranteed AM and LTL Urgent are still available during this time period.

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The Postal Service recommends the following deadlines for expected delivery by Dec. 25.  

USPS 2020 Holiday Schedule

Service

Deadline

Friday, November 6

APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) USPS Retail Ground service

Wednesday, December 9

APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

Friday, December 11

APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail services

Tuesday, December 15

USPS Retail Ground service

Friday, December 18

APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express service

Friday, December 18

First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)

Friday, December 18

First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

Saturday, December 19

Priority Mail service

Wednesday, December 23

Priority Mail Express* service


NOTE FROM USPS:
*Not a guarantee, unless otherwise noted. Dates are for estimated delivery before Dec. 25. Actual delivery date may vary depending on origin, destination, Post Office acceptance date and time, and other conditions. Some restrictions apply. For Priority Mail Express shipments mailed Dec. 22 through Dec. 25, the money-back guarantee applies only if the shipment was not delivered, or delivery was not attempted, within two business days.

For tips on shipping heavy freight during the holiday season, please see our post Tips for Shipping Heavy Freight During the Holidays, which outlines advice on spot quotes, volume rates, partner rates, and what to do after the holidays. 

And happy shipping!