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The 2021 Holiday Logistics Guide

holiday logisticsHalloween is in the rearview mirror and Black Friday is on the horizon. As such, retailers and logistics providers are gearing up for the annual holiday logistics crunch. The National Retail Federation (NRF) has forecast that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Additionally, NRF estimates that online sales will increase between 11 percent and 15 percent to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion over 2020. This surge in e-commerce will put added strain on an already disrupted supply chain. As we’ve done in years past, let’s check in to see how some of the largest logistics providers and retailers are handling the holiday logistics rush.

Amazon has been on a hiring spree as it gears up for the holiday season. The company plans to hire 150,000 seasonal staffers, which is about 50 percent more than last year. These workers will be used to store, pack, and ship items from its warehouses. Amazon said that the average starting pay of jobs in the US was $18 an hour. And with more competition for entry-level workers, the company has also been offering signing bonuses of as much as $3,000, depending on location, and as much as an additional $3 per hour for workers willing to work overnight or weekend shifts.

Amazon also rolled out “Black Friday-worthy” deals in mid-October in a bid to hook early holiday shoppers. The early Black Friday deals coincided with Amazon’s beauty products event, called “Holiday Beauty Haul.”

UPS is hiring more than 100,000 workers this holiday season, which is about the same number as last year. The company is filling full- and part-time seasonal positions, primarily package handlers, drivers, driver helpers, and personal vehicle drivers. UPS has a track record of turning seasonal jobs into permanent positions. Over the last three years, about one-third of people hired by UPS for seasonal package handler jobs were later hired in a permanent position when the holidays were over, and about 138,000 current UPS employees, or nearly a third of the company’s US workforce, started in seasonal positions. Through the company’s Earn and Learn program, eligible seasonal employees who are students can earn up to $1,300 towards college expenses, in addition to their hourly pay, for three months of continuous employment.

FedEx is bringing in approximately 90,000 seasonal workers this year, which is an increase of about 30 percent over last year. The company is also adding new hubs and sorting centers as well as making improvements in package handling and delivery capabilities to keep up with demand. FedEx is making the commitment to seven-day residential delivery to get packages where they need to be every day of the week. On top of the seasonal workers to sort and deliver packages, FedEx is also hiring about 500 people to fill positions in IT and data science.

The Postal Service is hiring approximately 40,000 seasonal workers this year, up from about 35,000 employees last year. Seasonal opportunities include but are not limited to city and rural mail carriers, mail handlers and drivers. In addition to hiring, the Postal Service is preparing for the higher delivery demands of the 2021 holiday peak season by leasing millions of additional square feet of mail and package sortation facilities and installing new processing equipment to accommodate higher mail and package volumes.

Walmart announced that it is hiring about 150,000 new US store workers, most of them permanent and full-time, in preparation for the busy holiday season. The company is also planning to offer extra hours to many of its store workers during the period. Walmart will also hire 20,000 workers in its supply chain facilities to permanent roles as people have increasingly adopted curbside pickup and delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, Walmart is also rolling out more fulfillment options for customers. The company is extending store delivery hours nationwide by two hours, offering more delivery windows for customers, increasing the variety of goods available for store delivery, and including more locations for oversized products and alcohol to be picked up. Walmart plans to offer Black Friday deals throughout the month of November, with early access for Walmart+ members.

Target said that it would scale back on seasonal hiring and instead give more hours to its roughly 300,000 current store employees. The company said it will pay $2 an hour more to employees who pick up shifts during peak days of the holiday season. The extra pay will go to store employees and service center employees who work on Saturdays and Sundays from November 20 to December 19, on Christmas Eve or on the day after Christmas. Hourly supply chain employees can get the additional pay for peak two-week periods between October 10 and December 18. Target also unveiled enhancements to its Drive Up curbside pickup, by adding 18,000 assigned parking spaces. Additionally, Shipt same-day delivery, meanwhile, will be available for a wider range of products across Target’s assortment, including apparel and accessories, Ulta Beauty items, electronics, toys and now adult beverages.

It wouldn’t be the holiday season if people didn’t stress out about holiday shipping deadlines. Here are the deadlines to keep in mind for your own holiday logistics planning. UPS, FedEx, and the USPS have said that you should be fine shipping Christmas gifts the week of December 13, but with the ongoing capacity crunch, it might be safer to make sure you have shipped items by December 10. The ground cutoff is December 15 for both FedEx and the Postal Service, while UPS doesn’t give a cutoff date. However, it does say that coast-to-coast shipping takes about a week, meaning it should be shipped no later than December 17. FedEx and UPS have both eliminated nearly all their delivery guarantees through the holiday season. The sole exception is UPS Next Day Air, which comes with a hefty price tag.


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