News Column

Holiday Season Is Crunch Time for FedEx, UPS, Post Office

Dec. 11, 2012

Wayne Faulkner, Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.


The trademark trucks making pickups and deliveries are starting to appear on area streets and driveways in greater numbers as the Christmas rush builds to a crescendo.

In fact, Monday was the busiest day of the year for FedEx in Wilmington and across its system.

The FedEx ground operation here expected to handle 7,000 to 8,000 packages Monday versus its normal, non-seasonal daily load of 3,000, said Tyrus Shaffer, senior manager at the facility at 2414 N. 23rd St., near Wilmington International Airport.

It's all part a surge in business for all carriers.

That's partially thanks to Americans having discovered the joys of reduced-cost or free shipping offered by many businesses, including those working with FedEx, Shaffer said.

"That has a tremendous impact on our volume, he added.

"You can really tell that people are opening up their wallets this year," Shaffer said. "It's definitely much busier than we've been in the last couple of years, at least at the local level."

Across its system, FedEx expected to move 19 million packages Monday.

For UPS, Dec. 20 is peak day, when the company expects to deliver a record 28 million packages, about 80 percent above a normal day, said spokeswoman Sherial Cubit. That's up from last year's record of 27 million packages.

That's equal to more than 300 packages every second, Cubit added.

"Most ground packages in the U.S. can get to their destinations between one and three business days," she said.

Between Nov. 26 and Christmas Eve, UPS expects to have delivered a record 527 million packages around the world, up from the previous record of 480 million packages set last year.

At the U.S. Postal Service, the biggest mailing date is Dec. 17, said USPS spokeswoman Monica Robbs, when 658 million pieces of mail will move on that day alone. That's versus 528 million on an average day.

Dec. 20 is expected to be the Postal Service's biggest delivery day, she said.

All that business translates into higher employment, including at FedEx's Wilmington ground shipping operation.

Employment at its facility here has risen from about 28 to 45. The ramp-up to Christmas started in mid- to late October, said Shaffer, as he conducted a tour of the Wilmington operations.

It takes inbound packages, moves them along conveyor belts for coding -- so they can be tracked by customers -- and back into trailers for their trip to a FedEx hub and then to their ultimate destination, he explained.

It takes only about two minutes for a package from an incoming truck to be processed and moved into an outbound truck, Shaffer said. And it may take 30 to 45 minutes to unload a truck and about the same time up load the outbound vehicle, Shaffer said.

"We'll have 35 trucks come in today and probably have eight trailers go out tonight," he said.

The Wilmington facility has a wide reach, serving an area that stretches from the South Carolina line north nearly to New Bern and west to Warsaw.

And that encompasses military bases -- popular gift destinations at holiday time.

"We do Camp Lejeune. Cherry Point. Those trucks are overstuffed every day," Shaffer said "Those drivers have had to put on extra resources and extra trucks."



Source: (c)2012 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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