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A Year Later, Delivery Services Up Their Holiday Game


Well, here's an idea for a lampooning December movie - it's the holidays and shipping companies can't get their act together. They disappoint millions of customers because they can't deliver gifts on time.

That actually happened last year. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that the package delivery businesses is hoping to avoid a sequel.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: These days, many holiday shoppers expect shipping to be both free and faster, and that is putting pressure on all delivery companies to do business efficiently and for less. UPS forecast that yesterday would be the company's biggest day ever.

ANDY MCGOWAN: We expect to deliver 34 million packages worldwide.

NOGUCHI: Andy McGowan, a spokesman for UPS, says that's on top of an already busy delivery season. But so far, no weather, no problems.

MCGOWAN: At this point, everything is expected to be delivered as planned and all of our operations are running smoothly.

NOGUCHI: That is in contrast to last year which was a relatively short holiday shopping season, meaning more shoppers bought things online, later. That combined with bad weather created huge late delivery problems for both UPS and FedEx. This year UPS worked with major retailers to better forecast peak days. It invested well over a half a billion dollars to increase its capacity, and improved its sorting and package tracking systems.

MCGOWAN: We learned some lessons and we've spent since December 26 of last year preparing for this year.

NOGUCHI: Rival FedEx has also invested in new facilities and automation to increase its capacity as well, adding more than 50,000 seasonal workers. It forecast last Monday would be its busiest. The U.S. Postal Service is also upping its game. It introduced seven-day-a-week delivery in major cities and is offering free package pick up. It's telling customers today, Tuesday, is the last day packages can be shipped and still arrive in time for Christmas.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.


GREENE: We always deliver on-time at NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Science Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. She started covering consumer health in the midst of the pandemic, reporting on everything from vaccination and racial inequities in access to health, to cancer care, obesity and mental health.
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