By Nathalie Voit

Major U.S. carriers, including the United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service, have stepped up on-time deliveries this holiday season as greater in-store shopping and earlier online orders have helped delivery networks meet shipment deadlines, industry data revealed.

According to a press release from ShipMatrix, a developer of shipment visibility software solutions, large parcel carriers have delivered consistent service despite a scarcity of workers.

“In spite of labor shortages impacting parcel carriers’ ability to hire additional workers, they have held up the service levels,” ShipMatrix President Satish Jindel said.

For the three weeks leading up to Dec. 4, which includes the peak shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, FedEx reported an on-time performance (OTP) rate of 85.7%, UPS 96.4%, and USPS 95.1%. For the last week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, when carriers handled far more transactions than in the previous two weeks, major parcel carriers still fared consistently well with FedEx at 83.9%, UPS at 96.1%, and USPS at 95.5%, the report stated.

On-time shipping scores improve when express orders are taken into account. Figures for express service for the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 reveal higher rates for all three carriers, with FedEx at 97.4%, UPS at 99.0%, and USPS at 98.6%.

Scores are based on whether an order arrives within the promised delivery time, which may differ by carrier.

The strong performance rates are a welcome relief for UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, who managed to increase on-time deliveries during the peak shipping period compared to last year as more and more consumers opted to buy earlier in the holiday season or set foot in retail stores.

According to the report, consumers may have been motivated to shop earlier or buy in-store due to the widespread news coverage of the supply-chain crisis.

However, FedEx posted a drop in performance compared with one year ago, although the company’s metrics have improved from recent quarters. The delivery giant blamed the continuing labor shortage for the shipping delays.

“The impact of constrained labor markets remains the biggest issue facing our business,” FedEx Chief Operating Officer Raj Subramaniam said earlier in the fall.

Considering the continuing labor shortage, ShipMatrix advised consumers to place orders by Dec. 15 unless they plan to get faster express shipping.