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Christmas package deliveries facing extra obstacle this year

Shipping and delivery companies are bracing for this coming week - one of the busiest for holiday packages. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Shippers and delivery companies are facing added pressure this year to get packages to their final destinations. Christmas falls on a Monday, and many packages are not delivered on Sundays. That means less margin for error.

A record number of packages are expected to be handled by carriers as they brace for the coming week’s holiday rush. The week before Christmas is typically the busiest time of year for FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service and UPS. Many e-commerce orders are making this year a busy one, The Wall Street Journal reported.

How many packages are being processed?

Carriers expect to process hundreds of millions of packages this holiday season.

The U.S. Postal Service expects to exceed its projection of processing 850 million between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, The Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. Postal Service typically makes more deliveries than its two biggest commercial competitors, FedEx and UPS.

FedEx is expected to handle about 400 million packages nationwide. To meet the demand, FedEx has upgraded its operations with a “new hub for its ground deliveries and the expansion of two existing hubs,” according to The WSJ.

Patrick Fitzgerald, a senior vice president of marketing and communications at FedEx, told The WSJ the company is working with retailers to determine where to deploy trucks and planes.

The carrier is also watching out for any changes, so it can quickly respond, Fitzgerald said.

“We just need to be clear in setting expectations on how much our networks can handle on any given day,” he added.

UPS, meanwhile, is expected to process as many as 750 parcels this holiday season.

UPS was grappling with “a crush of online orders” that were creating to delivery delays. But the backlog is now cleared, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Were more people hired to meet the demand?

To keep up with the holiday rush, UPS is deploying special “ready teams” to busy areas such as Atlanta, Denver and Houston. More workers are on hand to go into areas that experience bottlenecks, The WSJ reported.

UPS drivers were warned they could work as many as 70 hours in eight days. Union leaders for UPS workers are not happy.

“UPS dropped the ball this year,” Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, told the WSJ. “Our members are out there working harder and longer than ever and it’s not healthy.”

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