By Scott Mayerowitz
NEW YORK: Santa’s sleigh didn’t make it in time for Christmas for some this year due to shipping problems at UPS and FedEx.
The delays were blamed on poor weather earlier this week in parts of the country as well as overloaded systems. The holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, more buying was done online and Americans’ tendency to wait until the last possible second to shop probably didn’t help either.
Neither company said how many packages were delayed but noted it was a small share of overall holiday shipments. While the bulk of consumers’ holiday spending remains at physical stores, shopping online is increasingly popular and outstripping spending growth in stores at the mall.
The problems appear to have affected many parts of the country. The Associated Press spoke to people in Alabama, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia who didn’t receive presents in time for Christmas.
Many were left with little or no time to make alternative plans.
Jeff Cormier and his Dallas family were among those who ordered gifts that didn’t arrive.
He had three separate UPS packages — including two for which he paid extra for expedited shipping — delayed.
“I’ve had to apologize to three different people when I thought I had everything wrapped up and good to go way before,” Cormier said.
He and his wife are celebrating their baby daughter’s first Christmas and flew in his grandmother from Ohio to join them. Her gift, a customized iPhone cover with a photo of her new great-granddaughter, didn’t come in time for Christmas.
“My wife and I had our presents to open. Our daughter had her presents to open. And my grandma, she didn’t have anything to open,” Cormier said.
“We apologize that our customers did not receive their packages on Christmas,” said Natalie Godwin, a spokeswoman for United Parcel Service Inc.
Godwin said snow and ice in the Midwest last week and an ice storm that hit Dallas two-and-a-half weeks ago were partially to blame. She also said the volume of packages shipped exceeded the capacity of UPS but would not share the number of packages shipped or what the company’s maximum capacity is.
UPS did not make pickups or deliveries Wednesday. However, some FedEx customers were able to pick up packages Christmas Day at their local FedEx Express centers.
“We’re sorry that there could be delays and we’re contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup,” said Scott Fiedler, a spokesman for FedEx Corp.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments, according to Fiedler. Those not delivered in time, he said, “would be very few.”