Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays

Retailers and carriers are preparing for an online holiday shopping surge that could tax shipping networks and lead to delivery delays.

FedEx and UPS are ramping up their holiday hiring while expanding their weekend operations and asking retailers to use their shipping network when there is more slack. And stores are pushing shoppers to buy early and are expanding services like curbside pickup to minimize the need for delivery.

For the last few years, many retailers had been using their own physical stores, in addition to their distribution centers, to fulfill online orders. But now they are designating some of those stores to handle even higher volumes. Best Buy, for example, converted space in 250 of its 1,000 stores this fall to manage online orders.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced Thursday it was taking space in 42 regional distribution centers to create “pop-up”′ e-commerce distribution hubs to meet the surging demand for online orders this holiday season.

The moves come as most of the carriers have been at full shipping capacity for months as shoppers shifted their buying online during the pandemic.

“We are warmed up for what we’re calling the ship-a-thon,” said Brie

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