UPS, FedEx, USPS release holiday shipping dates as retailers brace for more supply chain disruption

Though it’s not yet Halloween, mail carriers UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service have released their recommended deadlines to ship packages in time for the holidays.

Pandemic supply chain woes have industry experts warning consumers to shop early, but shipping deadlines are relatively consistent with past years.

For delivery by Dec. 25 within the lower 48 states, the U.S. Postal Service advises people using its ground service to send items by Dec. 15. Those using First-Class Mail and Priority Mail have until Dec. 17 and 18, respectively — one day earlier than last year. The recommended shipping date for Priority Mail Express, Dec. 23, hasn’t changed.

UPS advises sending packages within the U.S. by Dec. 21 if using UPS 3 Day Select or as late as Dec. 23 if sent by UPS Next Day Air — the same dates as last year. Ground shipping deadlines vary depending on the package’s route, and UPS advised checking its website for estimated shipping times.

<p>The U.S. Post Office Chicago headquarters in Chicago on Aug. 18, 2020. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)</p>

Jose M. Osorio

The U.S. Post Office Chicago headquarters in Chicago on Aug. 18, 2020. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

FedEx, meanwhile, advised sending packages no later than Dec. 15 if using FedEx Ground and Dec. 22 if using FedEx 2-Day. The deadline for FedEx’s Same Day service is Dec. 24, one day earlier than last year.

Last holiday season, many retailers warned of shipping delays as consumers did even more of their holiday shopping online than usual. The Postal Service, in particular, struggled with delivering packages on time under the weight of historic holiday volume and staffing shortages from COVID-19.

All three package carriers are staffing up for another surge this year. UPS and the U.S. Postal Service have said they plan to hire 100,000 and 40,000 seasonal employees, respectively. FedEx aims to hire 90,000, up from 70,000 last year.

Many of those jobs remain open.

The Postal Service is still looking for more than 300 city carrier assistants and more than 1,000 seasonal employees in the Chicago area, spokesperson Elizabeth Najduch said.

UPS, which said last month it aimed to hire about 5,000 people in the Chicago area, still has about 4,500 openings, said spokesperson Dan McMackin. That’s not unusual for this early in the season and the carrier is “on track” to meet its hiring goal, he said.