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Can nation's shippers deliver Christmas on time?

This year, nearly 3.5 million more Americans are expected to join those already shopping online
Inside FedEx: Learning from past holiday blunders 03:11

Holiday shopping on the web is heating up. This year, almost 3.5 million more Americans are expected to join those already shopping online. That's putting more pressure on the nation's delivery services trying to avoid last year's debacle.

This year, FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service said they've taken steps to make sure -- echoing the lyrics of a holiday classic -- that from now on, their troubles will be out of sight, reports CBS News correspondent Don Dahler.

As snow storms and bad weather lashed much of the country last year, flight delays and unplowed streets put millions of presents in limbo.

1.3 million packages handled by UPS and 618,000 handled by FedEx failed to get delivered on time.

But according to ShipMatrix, the company that makes software for shippers, 70 percent of the fault lies with retailers, not the shippers. They often advertised free, last minute shipping, but neglected to actually pay for the speedier service in order to save money.

Nevertheless, FedEx, UPS and the postal service are all beefing up their ranks in anticipation of a record holiday shopping season.

"I think we've really geared ourselves up to be ready," FedEx managing director of district operations Nan Malebranche said.

It's on people like her whom the country greatly depends at this time of year.

"Believe it or not, people think we're crazy, but it is a very exciting time of year for us," Malebranche said. "You're going into the World Series and it's the last game, it's game seven and you're ready for it and that's how we all feel about it."

FedEx has 15 meteorologists on staff to guide shipments around bad weather.

They plan on shipping more than 290 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. That's up 8.8 percent over last year. UPS predicts it will deliver 585 million packages in December, an increase of 11 percent. And the postal service says it's gearing up to deliver as many as 470 million packages -- 12 percent more than last season.

All three shippers are adding temporary workers, with both UPS and FedEx each hiring 10,000 more than in past years.

One worker, Steve Seda, is marking his 17th Christmas with FedEx.

"The day after Christmas, yes, definitely a relief," he said. "Get a little massage, a little TLC from the wife, it's a great time after Christmas, yes it is."

Americans are expected to buy a record $89 billion shopping online this season. To ensure your gifts reach their destinations in time, carriers urge to shop early and make sure the retailers really do buy the express service if they advertise it.

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