USPS Time-in-Transit Data
May - August 2020

Introduction

The following report analyzes USPS delivery trends, including findings on average transit times, percent of delayed packages, and length of delays by USPS service level and zone from May 1 through August 12, 2020. In addition, we’re sharing the most-impacted delivery routes experiencing delays for popular USPS service levels.

Report Methodology

Shippo’s technology helps more than 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses ship their packages with the USPS and 55 other carriers, including UPS, FedEx, and DHL. The following analysis reflects aggregate USPS data from all of our users. The package volume analyzed is in the tens of millions of packages for the specified time frame.

Shippo is an e-commerce shipping platform. Our services and corresponding data are specific to parcel/package shipments. We do not support letter mail services and do not have any data on transit times for letter mail.

Definitions

Average number of days delayed: the average number of days late a package is delivered after its originally-scheduled delivery date.

Average transit time: the average number of days it takes a package to be delivered, from the moment it is scanned into the mailstream to the final destination scan.

Percent of deliveries delayed: the percentage of overall packages delivered after their originally-scheduled delivery date.

Service level: the USPS-branded shipping service selected for the package. (The following data analyzes USPS Priority Mail and USPS First Class Package Service.) Upon label purchase, the USPS will offer an expected delivery date that will reflect a delivery time of 1, 2, or 3 business days based on the package origin and destination. The expected delivery date does not come with a money-back guarantee.

  • USPS Priority Mail supports packages weighing 1 – 70 pounds and traveling domestically in the U.S.
  • USPS First Class Package Service supports packages weighing less than 1 pound and traveling domestically within the U.S.

Zones: an assigned value that represents the distance the package travels. The packages traveling the shortest distances are assigned Zone 1 and those traveling the farthest and/or to more remote areas of the U.S. are assigned Zone 8.

Table of Contents

Average Transit Time by Service Level and Zone

USPS Priority Mail: All Zones 

We analyzed average transit time for popular service levels to determine if the delivery times have changed and, if so, by how much. The USPS Priority Mail service level saw slight increases comparing May and June data with July and August; however, all of the package volume in aggregate saw a 9.03 percent increase.

The following chart shows average time in transit for each day. The x-axis indicates label purchased date and the y-axis represents days in transit. Due to the lack of deliveries on Sundays, transit times typically get longer near the end of the week (see FAQs for more information).

Average Transit Time for USPS Priority Mail - All Zones

Average Transit Time in Days for USPS Priority Mail

USPS First Class Package Service: All Zones 

For USPS First Class Package Service, July and August saw slight increases in delivery transit time versus May and June.

Average Transit Time for USPS FCPS - All Zones

Average Transit Time in Days for USPS First Class Package Service

USPS Priority Mail: Short Distances

For USPS Priority Mail, packages traveling shorter distances, Zones 1-4, saw smaller increases than its longer-distance counterparts. For example, packages traveling via Zone 4 went from taking an average of 3.08 days to be delivered in May/June to 3.28 days in July/August—a 6.38 percent increase.

Average Transit Time for USPS Priority Mail - Shorter Distances

USPS Priority Mail: Long Distances

USPS Priority Mail Zones 5-8 are seeing longer transit times. For example, Zone 5 packages traveled an average of 3.43 days in May and June, jumping 7.78 percent to 3.70 days in July and August.

Average Transit Time for USPS Priority Mail - Longer Distances

USPS First Class Package Service: Short Distances

For USPS First Class Package Service, Zones 2-4 all saw between a 4 and 5 percent increase in time in transit between the two time intervals. The only outlier was Zone 1, which saw an 8.82 percent increase, averaging at 1.93 days in May and June and 2.10 days in July and August.

Average Transit Time for USPS FCPS - Shorter Distances

USPS First Class Package Service: Long Distances

The zones that represent longer distances (Zones 5-8) saw more variation in the increases. One example is Zone 6, which had an average transit time of 3.86 days in May/June and increased 8.88 percent to 4.21 days in July/August.

Average Transit Time for USPS FCPS - Longer Distances

Percentage of Deliveries Delayed by Service Level and Zone

USPS Priority Mail: All Zones 

The next analysis reveals the percentage of all packages that were delivered after their original delivery date and how that percentage changed from May to July. All Zones for USPS Priority Mail and USPS First Class Package Service saw a slight increase to their percentage of packages that experienced delays.

The following chart shows percent of deliveries delayed. The x-axis indicates label purchased date and the y-axis represents percent of deliveries delayed for the day.

Percent of Labels Delayed for USPS Priority Mail - All Zones

USPS First Class Package Service: All Zones 

On average, USPS First Class Package Service deliveries saw a 31.28 percent increase of the average percent of packages delayed daily between May/June versus July/August, increasing from 14.64 percent delayed to 19.22 percent delayed.

Percent of Labels Delayed for USPS FCPS - All Zones

USPS Priority Mail: Short Distances 

For USPS Priority Mail, packages traveling shorter distances saw much smaller differences between the two time frames. Between May and June, an average of 27.89 percent of Zone 1 packages were delivered after their original delivery estimate. In July/August, this average was 29.51 percent—a difference of 5.81 percent.

In another example, Zone 4 packages traveling in May and June saw an average 20.54 percent of volume experience delays. Zone 4 packages in July and August witnessed a 23.69 percent of volume delayed—a 15.34 percent increase.

Percent of Labels Delayed for USPS Priority Mail (shorter distances)

USPS Priority Mail: Long Distances 

USPS Priority Mail packages traveling in Zones 5-8 saw slightly larger increases. Zone 5 packages, for example, had 25.33 percent of volume delayed in May and June, which increased by 19.27 percent to 30.21 percent of packages in July/August.

Percent of Labels Delayed for USPS Priority Mail (longer distances)

USPS First Class Package Service: Short Distances

USPS First Class Package Service increased its percent of packages that experienced delays; however, the increase was smaller for Zones 1-4. For instance, 13.08 percent of Zone 2 packages were delayed in May and June, up 7.95 percent in July/August to 14.12 percent.

Percent of Labels Delayed for USPS FCPS - Shorter Distances

USPS First Class Package Service: Long Distances

USPS First Class Package Service Zones 5-8 saw the largest percent increases between the two time frames. As an example, Zone 5 packages in May and June had 16.8 percent of its volume delayed and July and August packages had 22.05 percent—an increase of 31.25 percent.

Percent of Labels Delayed for USPS First Class Package Service - Longer Distances

Average Number of Days Delayed by Service Level and Zone

USPS Priority Mail: All Zones

Next, we looked at the number of days a package was delivered after the original delivery expected date. For USPS Priority Mail, each zone saw an increase, although the value varied across the board.

The following chart shows the average number of days the deliveries were delayed. The x-axis indicates label purchased date and the y-axis represents the average number of days the packages purchased that day were delayed in delivery.

Average Days Delayed for USPS Priority Mail - All Zones

USPS First Class Package Service: All Zones

USPS First Class Package Service saw a wider range of change. In fact, Zone 4 saw a 4.47 percent decrease in the average number of days delayed.

Average Days Delayed for USPS FCPS - All Zones

USPS Priority Mail: Short Distances

For USPS Priority Mail, both Zone 1 and Zone 2 hovered around an increase of 11.5 percent on the average number of days the package was delayed. Zone 3 and 4, however, only saw roughly 2 to 3 percent increase in the number of days delayed.

Average Days Delayed for USPS Priority Mail - Shorter Distances

USPS Priority Mail: Long Distances

The percent change for each of the longer-distanced zones varied. As an example, packages traveling via Zone 5 in May/June were an average of 1.99 days later than expected, compared to 2.23 days late—an increase of 11.65 percent.

Average Days Delayed for USPS Priority Mail - Longer Distances

USPS First Class Package Service: Short Distances

The percent change for short-distance USPS First Class Package Service deliveries saw some of the largest fluctuations. Zone 1 saw an 11.73 percent increase over the two timeframes, Zone 2 a 4.65 percent increase, Zone 3 a 2.95 percent increase, and Zone 4 a 4.47 percent decrease.

Average Days Delayed for USPS FCPS - Shorter Distances

USPS First Class Package Service: Long Distances

For long distance USPS First Class Package Service deliveries, Zone 6, 7, and 8 all averaged between 12 and 13 percent increase. Zone 5, however, saw a 9.23 percent increase between the two time periods.

Average Days Delayed for USPS FCPS - Longer Distances

Most-impacted Routes

On average, 24 percent of USPS Priority Mail packages experienced a delay. The chart depicts the ten delivery routes that saw the highest delays from July 1 – August 6. Packages with both the origin and destination address of Massachusetts saw the largest percentage of delays. 54 percent of packages were delayed for that route.


USPS First Class Package Service sees 17 percent of its volume get delayed from July 1 – August 6. Notably, 43 percent of packages traveling via this service level from California to Michigan were delayed.


Frequently Asked Questions

WHY ARE THERE FLUCTUATIONS AND SPIKES?

Since the USPS does not deliver on Sunday, a shipment initiated towards the end of a week, on Friday or Saturday, will likely be in transit for more days compared to one initiated on a Monday. You will also see spikes in late May and early July. These spikes are a result of the federally observed holidays of Memorial Day on May 25th and July 4th. Shipments placed in the days leading up to these holidays, on average, spent more days in transit since the USPS did not make deliveries on either of the federally observed holidays.

WHAT IS THE MILE RADIUS FOR EACH ZONE?

Roughly speaking, the zones are assigned as follows:

  • Zone 1: 50 mile radius
  • Zone 2: 51-150 mile radius
  • Zone 3: 151-300 mile radius
  • Zone 4: 301-600 mile radius
  • Zone 5: 601-1000 mile radius
  • Zone 6: 1001-1400 mile radius
  • Zone 7: 1401-1800 mile radius
  • Zone 8: 1801+ mile radius
  • Why is more recent data missing?

    Several of the trend graphs above cut off after the first week of August, because more recent shipment data is skewed. This is because more recent days have shipments that are still in-transit, so if we were to look at transit times and delays, the data would be biased because we would only be analyzing the fastest-delivered packages and omitting those that are still in transit.

    Why does Shippo only support packages?

    Shippo’s technological relationship with the USPS is specific to its shipping and packaging services, which means those are the only service levels that we support.

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