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Holiday season delivery on-time performance levels are back to pre-pandemic levels, says ShipMatrix

Data recently issued by ShipMatrix, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based SJ Consulting, pointed to on-time performance (OTP) ranges, from November 1 through November 23, for online orders, coming in at high levels.

The firm said that average tally of parcels delivered per day came in at around 85 million, with OTP ranges for the three largest carriers—FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service (USPS)—in similar territory, at 96.3%, 97.0%, and 96.2%, respectively.

What’s more, with average daily volume heading up to average daily volume of 90 million parcels, over the course of Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, from November 24 to November 30, and hitting 100 million for Cyber Monday, there was a slight decline for the carriers, when compared to the entire November 1 to November 23 period, with FedEx, at 95.3%, UPS, at 96.6%, and USPS, at 95.8%. And compared to the same period a year ago, during the period of Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, annual gains were apparent, with FedEx up 13.6%, UPS up 0.5% compared to 2021’s 96.1%; and USPS up 0.3% compared to 2021’s 95.5%.

ShipMatrix identified other delivery takeaways, for retailers and consumers, including:

  • orders shipped on Thursdays have 98% OTP, orders shipped on Mondays, at 92%; and
  • parcels shipped across the country have a lower OTP by around 4% when compared to parcels moving over a shorter distance, adding that retailers are able to leverage OTP attributes in managing order fulfillment and consumer expectations

In looking back at the lack of needed parcel capacity over the course of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, ShipMatrix observed that it led to the entrance of new market competitors, including Pitney Bowes, Quiet Platform, and OSM Worldwide, whom, the firm said, may have pushed the national carriers towards hitting higher ODP rates. And ShipMatrix said that comes with the caveat the USPS handles last-mile delivery for those three companies.

E-commerce giant Amazon, observed ShipMatrix, is seeing issues in handling two-day deliveries and is also shipping orders via UPS, after alerting customers initially expect delivery through its in-house delivery network.

ShipMatrix President Satish Jindel noted that OTP represents the best benchmark to gauge the ability of the major parcel carriers to handle huge holiday season volume spikes, while also pointing out a major difference between this year when compared to 2020 and 2021.

“This year, with capacity in excess of demand, the industry collectively has reached the pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

The return to pre-pandemic levels is notable, especially when taking into account how a year ago, at this time, the general consensus was the consumers needed to have online orders placed with retailers by December 15 unless the retailer was shipping the items via faster express services, according to ShipMatrix.

And as carriers dealt with labor shortages, which hindered the ability for parcel carriers to bring more people on board, solid OTP levels reflected how carriers have maintained strong service levels related to capacity expansions going back to the 2020 peak, as there has since been an uptick in consumers making purchases at retail stores, coupled with an increase in goods being ordered online earlier, themes which subsequently carried over into 2022.

ShipMatrix has also noted that as more than 70% of parcels are comprised of holiday gifts and delivered to residences, the most notable way to evaluate carriers’ performance is to consider express service as on time of delivered by end of day and Ground within one extra day.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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