UPS expects this holiday season to be busier than last, thanks to the growing popularity of online shopping. And more intense, thanks to the calendar.
The world's biggest package delivery company said Friday that it foresees peak season daily volume rising 8 percent this year. It expects to deliver more than 29 million packages on Dec. 17, topping last year's peak-day deliveries by more than 1 million.
UPS plans to hire 55,000 U.S. seasonal employees to work as drivers, helpers, package sorters, loaders and unloaders. That's the same number as last year, but this year's group may feel a lot busier. Besides the increased volume, there are just 26 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, six fewer than last year, making it the most compressed holiday shopping season since 2002.
United Parcel Service Inc. expects that Cyber Monday on Dec. 2 will see a 10 percent increase in pickup volume, surpassing 32 million packages. The peak day for package pick-ups will be Dec. 16, UPS said, with 34 million packages being picked up around the world that day.
UPS' smaller rival FedEx Corp. said it expects Dec. 2 to be its busiest day of the holiday season. FedEx expects to carry more than 22 million shipments that day. Last year, the company's heaviest load fell on Dec. 17, when it carried 19.9 million shipments.
FedEx expects to hire slightly more than the 20,000 seasonal workers that it added last year.
The National Retail Federation predicts that retail sales in November and December will rise 3.9 percent over last year to $602 million — $738 per shopper. It expects online sales to rise by 13 percent to 15 percent.
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