Supply Chain Performance Data: Peak Holiday Shopping Season

Delivery Experience Management (DEM) leader Convey by project44 is closely tracking delivery times and delays based on tens of millions of packages shipped from more than 500,000 locations across the US. We will continue to update this page with the latest shipping and supply chain performance data throughout the 2021 peak holiday shopping season, so check back regularly or subscribe to our newsletter for updates.

Black Friday-Cyber Monday 2021 and On-Time Performance for the Big Three

With the results of Black Friday-Cyber Monday week in the books, how are the big three carriers performing? Are backlogs at overseas factories and domestic ports affecting the arrival of presents under the tree? Today, we offer a first look at on-time performance (OTP) and other key metrics.

Supply-chain issues double the time it takes to move goods to carriers

Fulfillment time — defined as the period between when an online order is placed and when the package is picked up by the last-mile carrier — has more than doubled year over year, thanks to the upstream challenges retailers are facing with cargo shipments of goods from overseas, staffing shortages at docks and warehouses, and patchy inventory in stores and distribution centers. 

Fulfillment time for the week starting Friday, Nov. 26 rose to 3 days, up from 1.5 days in early November. By comparison, in 2020, fulfillment times rose only incrementally in November to a high of 1.3 days for Cyber week. 

FedEx slips, while UPS holds steady

Of the “big three” carriers, FedEx’s operations have been particularly hard-hit by staffing shortages, and the impact shows in on-time delivery performance. As shoppers got an early start to holiday shopping, spreading demand throughout November, FedEx’s performance has steadily declined.

FedEx delivered 64% of packages on time for the week starting Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 — and down from 75% the first week of November. By contrast, in 2020 FedEx’s OTP held steady above 75% throughout November, including Cyber week. 

OTP for UPS was 83% for the week starting Nov. 26, 2021 – down slightly from 85% the week prior. Last year, UPS OTP for Cyber week was 81%, compared with 82% the week prior.

USPS maintains the highest OTP of the big three

As the “carrier of last resort,” the USPS accepts the packages UPS and FedEx turn away due to capacity limits — but steady early shopping throughout November has helped prevent the spikes that can cause overflow shipments to flood the system. 

So far, the USPS has the highest on-time delivery rate, at 89% for the week starting Nov. 26, 2021 – compared with 91% the week prior. By contrast, during Cyber Week in 2020, USPS OTP fell dramatically to 79% from 87% the week prior. 

In a mid-season survey of 580 consumers conducted the week of Thanksgiving by Convey by project44, 61% of respondents said they had already completed at least half of their holiday gift shopping — with 10% saying they were already completely done. 

Thanks to this early buying pattern, shipment volume has been higher throughout November compared with 2020 — especially in the first half of the month, when more than 17 million packages were shipped, compared with nearly 13 million in 2020. For Cyber week, volume rose to 14.2 million packages compared to Cyber week 2020’s total of 12.7 million packages

Retailers are passing on higher shipping costs to consumers

Convey by project44’s survey found that more than 6 in 10 consumers have noticed higher shipping fees and free-shipping thresholds, signaling that retailers are passing on higher carrier costs to customers. Costlier home delivery may explain robust use of store and curbside pickup, which is often free.