Shippers See Healthy Holidays

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The country's three largest parcel shippers last week reported strong shipping numbers for the holiday season -- and online purchases were responsible for much of the growth, though no one was able to verify numbers.


"[E-commerce] had been a slowly building thing. This year, the explosion has finally come," said Norman Black, spokesman at United Parcel Service, Atlanta. "That volume is growing and having a significant impact [on our business]."


UPS said its peak day will be Dec. 22, when it expects to deliver well over 17 million packages compared to 11 million, its normal number. Last year, the company shipped 17.1 million packages on its peak day. The shipper said it will surpass its projection of moving 295 million packages during the holiday season.


At the USPS, early indications also show a noticeable increase in volume in both parcel shipments and Priority Mail from last year. But spokeswoman Sue Brennan said she can't quantify the numbers "until mid- to late-January, when this accounting period is over." Brennan also couldn't offer any specific e-commerce numbers but said it's attributing some of the growth this season to online sales.


And, despite a threatened pilots strike, Federal Express, Memphis, TN, is reporting healthy numbers. The shipper usually delivers 4 million packages a day during the holiday season, and, "we are delivering 4 million packages, and in some cases, more, this year," said spokeswoman Carla Boyd.


While Boyd was not able to attribute the number to online holiday sales, she said two-thirds of FedEx's overall business comes from orders placed online. However, most of the shipper's Internet-based business comes from business-to-business customers, not retail customers. In addition, she said FedEx recently said its goal is to eventually have all of its shipping initiated online, either through the Internet, personal computers or other means.


In other news, FedEx and the Federal Express Pilots Association said progress has been made in negotiations and a contract agreement should be reached before Christmas.
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