All Things Shipping | Oct 08, 2020

Don’t Forget—2020 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for USPS, UPS and FedEx

Jim Kazliner

It’s that time of year again….time to ramp up for the upcoming holiday season! Here at Shippo HQ, we get especially excited about the season, because, well, we’re passionate about shipping, and this is when things really heat up. This time around will be no exception, in spite of everything else that 2020 has sent our way. During this past year, e-commerce shopping has scaled new heights amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stakes for this quarter are even higher for many businesses. 

To help you successfully navigate the season, we’ve got this year’s holiday deadlines from several of the major carriers, including USPS, UPS and FedEx, so that you can start preparing your operations and customer communications. More on that in just a few, but first, here are some other things to keep in mind as you plan for the holiday season.

Holiday 2020: What’s in Store?

It’s no secret that this year’s holiday season will be much different than anything we’ve ever experienced before. With far more shoppers turning to e-commerce stores for both necessities and discretionary purchases this past year, both businesses and carriers have risen to the challenges to meet the increased demands. Now, with the holidays approaching, that demand will most definitely increase even further. To start, carriers have been planning in advance by building up their respective workforces and infrastructures, to help ensure that the holiday season is successful for everyone involved.  

Here’s some of what that looks like:

  • FedEx has increased its annual holiday hiring goal to 70,000 extra workers, up from around 55,000 in prior years 
  • UPS is hiring about 100,000 workers over the next few months after adding nearly 40,000 earlier this year

Managing Customer Expectations with “Ship-By” Dates

As your business ramps up for the holiday season, you’ll want to ensure that everyone knows the key deadlines for shipping, especially as we get deeper into December—and this is where carrier shipping deadlines come in extra handy. Known as “ship-by dates,” or “last days to ship,” these are the absolute drop-dead milestones the carriers provide to help ensure that orders are received by December 24. 

So as you’re getting all of the key elements in place for a successful holiday selling season—ensuring inventory levels are up, that your workforce is ready to go, and that all of your shipping supplies are in check—make sure to communicate to your customers clearly about what your business’s ship-by dates are so that they can place their orders in time. 

While the official carrier deadlines are useful internal milestones to work with, ultimately, your business’s own ship-by dates may vary based upon the time it takes your team to fulfill orders, and you’ll want to make sure you factor that into your communication strategy.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Bookmark this chart to make it easier for your team to keep track of the send-by dates, to ensure your customers receive their orders before Christmas. To make it even easier, you can also download a PDF of these charts to post in your facilities as a daily reminder of the carrier shipping deadlines.* 

USPS Service Levels 2020 Holiday Shipping Deadlines
USPS Retail Ground® Tuesday, December 15, 2020
USPS First Class
Package Service®
Friday, December 18, 2020
USPS Priority Mail® Saturday, December 19, 2020
USPS Priority
Mail Express®
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
FedEx Service Levels 2020 Holiday Shipping Deadlines
FedEx SmartPost® Wednesday, December 9, 2020
FedEx Ground® Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Express Saver®
Monday, December 21, 2020
FedEx 2Day® Tuesday, December 22, 2020
FedEx Standard Overnight® Wednesday, December 23, 2020
UPS Service Levels 2020 Holiday Shipping Deadlines
UPS Ground® Tuesday, December 15, 2020
UPS 3 Day Select® Monday, December 21, 2020
UPS 2nd Day Air® Tuesday, December 22, 2020
UPS Next Day Air® Wednesday, December 23, 2020

As mentioned above, feel free to download a copy of these deadlines and post in your workspace—so that you and your team can plan ahead as much as possible for the holiday season.

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Explore Shippo for a shipping solution to help you keep track of all of your orders this holiday season—and save you money in the process. 

Jim Kazliner was Shippo's senior content editor, creator, and overseer. His background spans business, retail, financial, and automotive sectors, as well as music and film journalism. When not spinning yarns on his long-suffering laptop, you’ll find him collecting vintage vinyl and obscure BMX bike parts.

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