USPS Improves On-Time Holiday Deliveries Over 2020 Despite COVID Surge

The United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered 96.9% of shipments on-time between Dec. 12 and Dec. 21, compared to 93.6% in 2020, according to data by software company ShipMatrix, which analyzes shipping data.

UPS also reported 97.1%, up from 95.8% in 2020, while FedEx fell from 95.2% in 2020 to 91.2% in 2021.

Additionally, the carriers showed high rates of certainty delivering online orders to arrive by Christmas Eve with 98.4% certainty from FedEx, 99.5% from UPS and 99.2% from USPS, with data showing some delayed parcels were delivered on Christmas Day.

“The carriers are achieving better results aided by additional capacity initiatives and reduced demand for delivery resulting from more consumers buying their gifts earlier and at brick-and-mortar stores,” ShipMatrix said.

However, one possible factor behind these improved metrics is a new service standard for first-class mail USPS implemented on Oct. 1 that allows the agency to add an extra day or two for mail delivery and still consider it on-time.

The improved performance is a positive sign for USPS management, which ramped up preparations for its peak holiday operations earlier than normal. However, the latest COVID-19 quarantine figures indicate USPS will continue to contend with employee availability issues well into 2022.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) reports more than 6,500 USPS employees, as of Dec. 24, were out of work because of COVID-19 infection or exposure. An APWU official says that these figures mark the highest quarantine rate for USPS since September this year.

The current number of employees in quarantine, meanwhile, is less than half of where USPS stood in December 2020, when as many as 19,000 postal workers were under quarantine.

USPS spokeswoman Darlene Casey said the agency does not comment on the existence of positive employee COVID-19 cases in postal facilities, or in quarantine, due to privacy concerns.

However, Casey said USPS “has resources in place, including adequate staffing in postal facilities across the country, to meet the service needs of our customers during the holiday season.”

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