Retailers urge shoppers to buy early amid shipping crunch

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A FedEx driver carries a package away from a van, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Seattle. Store are warning online shoppers that if holiday purchases aren’t made soon, they may not be delivered in time for Christmas. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

NEW YORK (NEXSTAR) — A number of retailers, including J.C. Penney, Lowe’s, and Kohl’s, are telling shoppers they need to place their online orders soon or else pay expedited shipping fees if they want to get their packages delivered in time for the holidays.

The earlier-than-usual deadlines come as more people turn to online shopping during the pandemic, creating a logjam for shipping companies as well as delivery delays. For some retailers like H&M and Lego, the deadlines have already passed.  

One expert estimates that a majority of retailers have pushed up deadlines by at least a day or two, with about a quarter moving them up at least a week or more.

Meanwhile, behemoths like Walmart, Target and Amazon haven’t had to make any major changes.

UPS is reportedly telling drivers not to pick up packages from some of the country’s largest retailers after they reached capacity cutoffs.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained internal documents, the impacted businesses include Nike, Gap, Macy’s, L.L. Bean, Hot Topic, and Newegg.

UPS spokesperson told CNBC that that they are working to deliver packages at record volumes.

The pending shipments of coronavirus vaccine are also a factor in possible shipping delays, according to AXIOS. If shipping networks become bogged down, your Christmas gifts will be held up to give priority to vaccine shipments.

“Customers need to realize that [companies] are required to — and should — give priority to the vaccine over your Christmas gift because there’s a life being lost every minute if that vaccine is delayed,” Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, a logistics data and consulting firm, told AXIOS.

For the two weeks of Nov. 22 through Dec. 5, including Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, UPS achieved 96% on-time delivery; FedEx was at 95%, and the U.S. Postal Service was at roughly 93%, AXIOS reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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