In a typical December, United Parcel Service and FedEx see their volumes peak mid-month as folks wrap up their Christmas buying. Last year, however, the packages just kept coming.
"More consumers shopped last-minute," said an analyst from NPD Group, as events unfolded. "E-commerce shipments far exceeded peak projections," noted UPS during its quarterly earnings call. "Last-minute promotions by online retailers drove extraordinary volume growth leading up to Christmas."
The result was massive delays. Many presents spent the holiday in a warehouse rather than under a tree. In an email sent to customers on Christmas morning, Amazon placed the blamesquarely on the shipping companies, noting that its own fulfillment centers were running on time.
But the e-commerce giant issued a press release the very next day, congratulating itself on the more than 1 million Amazon Prime members it had signed up in the third week of December alone, a flood so great that it had to suspend enrollment.