Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays

Laveta Brigham

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the holidays approach and the coronavirus situation worsens around the country, many people may do more, if not all, of their shopping online and opt to mail gifts to their loved ones instead of exchanging them in person. Since that could lead to severe delays, […]

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the holidays approach and the coronavirus situation worsens around the country, many people may do more, if not all, of their shopping online and opt to mail gifts to their loved ones instead of exchanging them in person.

Since that could lead to severe delays, retailers and postal carriers are advising people to getting their shopping and mailing done early this year.

Some carriers told 12 News they’ve ben at full shipping capacity for months due to the increase in online shopping during the pandemic.

“We are warmed up for what we’re calling the ‘ship-a-thon,’” FedEx said in a statement. “Like everything else in 2020, this is going to be an unprecedented peak season.”

FedEx is hiring 70,000 additional workers for the holidays, while UPS said they’ve taken on 100,000 seasonal employees.

“It is recommended that customers shop early to enhance their chances of gifts arriving in time for the holiday,” UPS said in a statement. “The Postal Service is expecting to handle around a billion packages this holiday season and we’re flexing our resources to prepare.”

Diane McCrohan, the marketing chair in the Johnson & Wales College of Business, recommends getting presents out the first week of December.

“For myself, I definitely will not be purchasing after the first week of December,” she said. “I told all of my family the same thing, as well.”

McCrohan added that U.S. online holiday sales are expected to shatter previous records.

“It’s expected that the time between Cyber Monday – the Monday after Thanksgiving – to the day after Christmas, we are going to surpass our shipping, exceed our capacity by about 5% which is about 700 million gifts that will not be on time this year,” she explained.

McCrohan said not to just rely on the mail, but also utilize curbside pickup from your favorite retailers, and she encourages people to support local businesses.

This year’s Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 28 and there are several online directories available to help you find local stores, including shoplocalrhody.com and shoplocalrhodeisland.com.

A new website was also launched this summer to support Black-owned businesses in Southeastern Massachusetts: BuyBlackNB.com.

Providence also has Open Air Saturdays, which were recently extended through December. Every Saturday in November and December, from 12 to 6 p.m., sections of Westminster and Union streets are closed to make more room for pedestrians.

Additionally, free two-hour parking has been extended in the capital city through Jan. 1, 2021.

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