UPS Asks Retailers to Spread Out Last Minute Christmas Deals

UPS famously blew the delivery of Christmas to millions last year. And they think it is unfair for them to shoulder the blame. When gift givers purchased goodies from online retailers who “guaranteed” overnight delivery for last minute purchases UPS’ delivery system was pushed beyond capacity and a lot of stuff didn’t get delivered until after Christmas.

This year UPS is taking steps to avoid a repeat. They have a new CEO, a hyped “new and improved” system and now they are asking retailers to spread the specials out and kill the last minute deals so that everyone gets Christmas delivered on-time.

Atlanta-based UPS is asking e-commerce companies to hold big sales in mid-December rather than in the last days before Christmas, and is also asking retailers to stagger offers geographically, reports The Wall Street Journal. For example, the paper says, a GoPro camera would go on sale one day in Texas and on a different day in Florida.

UPS Chief Executive Officer David Abney told the WSJ his company wants to work with retailers, but that you can’t encourage everyone to say, “Hey, just wait and ship the last day.’”
While many retailers are working to provide better package volume estimates, they are hesitant to back away from the final rush, the paper said.

UPS won’t be able to change consumer habits, retailer year-end strategies or, frankly, Christmas tradition.

Christmas Day this year falls on a Thursday. That’s bad news for no one except the shipping companies. Retailers are rubbing their hands at the prospect of a mid-week holiday because more than 150 of Christmas shopping data shows the last minute frenzy in years like this is always stronger. December 22nd will no doubt be the busiest shipping day of the year and UPS knows now they will get overwhelmed.

Somewhere in the back of their minds another factor is brewing that could easily overwhelm them early: if shoppers fear purchasing in public due to exposure to viruses online shopping may boom like never before. December 19th will be the final payday for lots of people which means a crazy last week for shoppers and shippers alike. Add the safety that online shopping adds to the mix and a perfect storm exists for another Christmas shipping disaster.

So the push is on. Order early, ship it now, don’t count on UPS to do Santa’s work. UPS does not want the blame again.

Good luck with that. While the calendar is much more favorable to retailers this year the unknowns of weather, consumer attitudes, and retailer desperation may just combine to make UPS the fall guy again.

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