Shipping companies facing herculean task before Xmas

Online shopping records

NEW YORK -- At its distribution centers around the country, FedEx has beefed up staffing and increased workers’ hours to handle a record number of shipments.

“We have been preparing for this all year ever since last peak,” said Nanette Malebranche, a managing director at the company.

“We have 50,000 additional seasonal workers on board. And we really have been prepping. We have 15 meteorologists 24-7 around the clock watching the weather worldwide, and we are really geared up here,” she said.

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A flood of FedEx shipments CBS News

It’s not just FedEx gearing up. UPS also expects to break its record of more than 700 million packages delivered. The company relocated hundreds of staff to its shipping hubs to pitch in.

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The increase in online shopping will drive the volume of packages this holiday season. UPS will handle 14 percent more packages than last year, and FedEx is expected to increase by 10 percent.

The major shippers are working overtime to handle the avalanche of orders and prevent shopper discontent.

UPS’s on-time delivery rate was 93.1 percent last week, and FedEx Ground’s was 96.2 percent, according to ShipMatrix, which tracks the major carriers.

Considering they move millions of packages a day, even a few percentage points means hundreds of thousands of late deliveries.

Satish Jindel of ShipMatrix said that, because of where the holidays fall on the calendar this year, shippers expect a lot of last-minute online shopping.

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FedEx workers loading trucks at a Bronx distribution center CBS News

“Christmas is on a Sunday. Even though Saturday is not a working day, if they find they’ve got packages that didn’t make it on time when people ordered it correctly, they will put people on the streets to make a delivery so people are not disappointed.,” Jindel said.

Friday is expected to be one of the busiest on-line shopping days of the year. It’s the last day packages can be guaranteed to arrive by Christmas without an extra charge.