The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS have released recommended shipping dates to ensure that gifts and cards arrive in time for Christmas.
In an economy upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages and price spikes have hit everything from lumber to computer chips to toilet paper, prompting retailers to recommend that consumers shop early or risk not finding what they want for Christmas, which falls on a Saturday this year.
Contributing to the issue is congestion problems that continue to plague the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which could impact supply chain over the next few months. The massive backup of cargo ships at the Port of L.A. has reached record levels in recent weeks.
“If you see toys that you think your kids are going to want for Christmas … pick them up now and tuck them away,” Toy Industry Association Executive Vice President Ed Desmond said last month.
On top of supply issues, the USPS has slowed mail delivery as part of a plan it said would cut costs and increase reliability. The new service standards mean USPS will increase the delivery time for 39% of first-class mail and 93% of periodicals such as magazines.
Last year, mail services were thoroughly overwhelmed as holiday shoppers shifted their buying online amid the pandemic. USPS said on its website then that it was “experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19.”
This year, USPS recommends starting early. “The earlier you send, the better: Don’t delay, mail and ship today,” it stated on its website.
Here are the dates you should mark on your calendar:
- Dec. 17 — First-Class Mail
- Dec. 17 — First-Class packages (smaller)
- Dec. 18 — Priority Mail
- Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express
- Dec. 9 — FedEx Ground Economy
- Dec. 15 — FedEx Ground and Home Delivery
- Dec. 21 — Express Saver
- Dec. 22 — 2Day & 2Day AM
- Dec. 23 — Overnight Services
- Dec. 24 — FedEx Same Day
- Ground shipping, check the website for a quote
- Dec. 22 — second-day air services
- Dec. 23 — next-day air services
- Note: UPS service guarantee suspended for most services due to COVID-19
And remember that shipping costs will go up as Dec. 25 nears.