Consumers worry about holiday delivery delays as shopping moves online amid pandemic

ByRandall Yip KGO logo
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Consumers worry about holiday shipping delays amid pandemic
There's a lot of nervousness in the retail industry about whether their deliveries can keep up with demand. As we found out, they aren't the only ones nervous.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One of the biggest challenges for shoppers this holiday season could be getting gifts to their destinations on time.

In fact, there's already a lot of nervousness in the retail industry about whether their deliveries can keep up with demand. As we found out, they aren't the only ones who are nervous.

Donna Bachmann counts herself as among the nervous ones. She says Federal Express lost five quilts she made last holiday season as gifts.

"We did everything. Everything we could possibly do to track, track it down," Bachmann said.

The lost shipment left many of her friends and family disappointed.

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic changing shoppers' outlook on holiday spending

The outlook for the economy and consumer holiday spending is growing more uncertain as shoppers have already changed their buying habits. A shift to online shopping is accelerating and could foretell that foot traffic in stores could fall off.

Thomas Webster knows that feeling too. He says gifts he bought from Victoria's Secret, Walmart and Target all arrived to their destinations late.

"It was scheduled to be delivered on December 11. Then they changed it to the 12, the 14, the 17 and then the 20," said Webster. He says OnTrac delivered some of those gifts as late as January.

Jon Gold is Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy at the National Retail Federation.

"A lot of retailers are telling their customers now that there could be potential delays because of that, that growth in e-commerce and the lack of capacity in the system to handle such growth," Gold said.

The pandemic has caused a surge in online shopping which could further strain the shipping industry.

Predictions from both Salesforce and Deloitte predict online shopping will increase as much as 34 to 35% over last holiday season.

RELATED: Forget Black Friday: Retailers push for earlier holiday shopping amid COVID pandemic

However both UPS and Federal Express tell 7 On Your Side they will be prepared. Federal Express tells us it is hiring an additional 70,000 seasonal employees for what it calls the "Shipathon." "We are warmed up and ready to go," said a spokesperson.

UPS says it's hiring 100,000 workers for the big rush.

It's also predicting 1 out of 3 seasonal workers will get permanent jobs.

A data scientist from the University of Illinois predicts both shippers will handle the onslaught.

"They have the system in place already. In essence, they know what to do. They just need to scale it a little higher. I think it's going to be okay. I don't anticipate any problems," said Sheldon Jacobson from the University of Illinois.

RELATED: What to look out for when holiday shopping in a pandemic

"To shop now or not to shop now, that is the question." Press play to learn more tips on navigating holiday shopping during a pandemic.

Still, retailers are urging everyone to shop early to ease their worries.

"This year we had to be pre-emptive and start ordering Christmas gifts a couple of months ago," Thomas Webster said.

"I am concerned. You can't stop. You have to do it," said Bachmann.

The Postal Service has not yet announced how many employees it will be hiring. OnTrac did not get back to us.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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