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2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines & How To Make Sure Your Packages Arrive On Time

Posted in Shipping on Nov 10, 2021, tagged with holiday shipping

From supply chain issues to an overwhelming demand for package shipment, 2020 was one for the record books when it comes to shipping and delivery services—you could even call it “unprecedented”. 

This year, the shipping industry is expecting another intense holiday season. For customers, this means placing your orders and sending your shipments earlier than normal, expecting an increase in costs, and looking at less traditional methods for getting your gifts delivered on time. 

So, which shipping service is right for you? Well, it depends on what you are sending: 

USPS, UPS, or FedEx is ideal for: Consolidated freight & less-than-truckload shipping is ideal for: White glove shipping is ideal for:
Cards
Small parcels
Small boxes of gifts

Boxes packed with anything that are too large for USPS, UPS, or FedEx
Car parts (boxed or crated)
Pallets

Furniture
Antiques
Artwork
Family heirlooms
Bulky or oddly-shaped items, like golf clubs

With these suggestions in mind, let’s take a look at shipping deadlines for some of the most common shipping  providers to ensure your gifts are delivered on time this holiday season: 

USPS

Service

Shipping Cutoff Date

USPS Retail Ground™ service Wednesday, December 15
First-Class Mail® service (including greeting cards) Friday, December 17
Priority Mail® service Saturday, December 18
Priority Mail Express® service* Thursday, December 23
*not a guarantee
Source: USPS

Rate Increase

To offset costs during their peak season, some USPS rates will be between $0.25 and $5.00 higher per package—depending on the service and package weight—between October 3 and December 26, 2021. Learn more in their press release

FedEx

Service

Shipping Cutoff Date

FedEx Freight® Economy
FedEx Ground® Economy
Thursday, December 9
FedEx Ground® Contiguous US
FedEx Ground® Alaska and Hawaii
FedEx Home Delivery® Contiguous US
FedEx Home Delivery® Alaska and Hawaii
FedEx Freight® Priority
FedEx Freight® Direct
Wednesday, December 15
FedEx Express Saver®
FedEx 3Day® Freight
Tuesday, December 21
2Day & 2Day AM
FedEx 2Day® Freight
Wednesday, December 22
FO, PO, SO, Extra Hours
FedEx 1Day® Freight
Thursday, December 23
FedEx Same Day® Thursday, December 23
Source: FedEx  

Rate Increase

Like USPS, FedEx has made changes to their pricing for the peak season. Surcharges are in effect between October and January. FedEx’s surcharges for residential delivery vary based on their peaking factor. Learn more in their Peak Surcharges and Fees guide

UPS

Service

Shipping Cutoff Date

UPS® Ground shipping Varies. Visit UPS's Calculate Time & Cost page for details.
3 Day Select® Tuesday, December 21
2nd Day Air® Services Wednesday, December 22
Next Day Air® Services Thursday, December 23
Source: UPS  

Rate Increase

UPS has also implemented a seasonal surcharge to help offset their increased costs. This surcharge went into effect on October 17, 2021 and affects most of their services. Learn more in their Peak Surcharge Update (PDF)

Consolidated freight and white glove shipping services

If you’re sending a gift of large packed boxes, furniture, antiques, or family heirlooms, you’ll want a shipping partner who specializes in transporting these items. While USPS, FedEx, and UPS are all capable of carrying oversized packages, in 2021, these providers are applying additional fees and surcharges to oversize packages in order to accommodate the increase in demand. In this case, consolidated freight or white glove shipping is your best bet:

  • Consolidated Freight - Consolidated freight is when multiple shipments from different people or businesses share space on a truck heading in the same direction. This method typically takes 3-7 business days to deliver, but can be cheaper than other options. It is ideal for boxes that are too large for USPS, FedEx, or UPS, car parts, and other durable items.
  • Consolidated White Glove - White glove shipping is a higher tier of service within the freight shipping family. With white glove shipping, professional movers will provide inside pickup and delivery and will prepare furniture items for transport. This method is ideal for furniture, antiques, and other fragile shipments. All unboxed furniture shipped with TSI is transported using white glove services. For high value or especially fragile items, TSI recommends taking advantage of our custom crating option prior to shipping. 
  • White glove service can take up to 15 days for pickup and an additional 20 days for delivery. Anything shipped this way should be sent off as soon as possible to ensure on-time delivery.

TSI is not currently experiencing delays with LTL shipments, but White Glove shipments to less-travelled areas may experience some slow-downs.

Conclusion

Just like in 2020, preparation and precaution are integral to getting your packages delivered before the holidays in 2021, so make the effort to ship them as soon as you possibly can. Keep these guidelines in mind when preparing your shipments:

  • Use USPS, UPS, or FedEx for cards, small parcels, and smaller boxes.
  • Use consolidated freight and specialty shipping companies like TSI for bulkier items, large boxes, or pieces that are too valuable or fragile to ship using traditional services.
  • Triple check that both the return and delivery address are correct.
  • Have an easy-to-read shipping and address label.
  • Correctly fill out the bill of lading and other documentation.
  • To ensure it arrives on time and isn’t incredibly expensive, send your shipment early!

Get Your Holiday Shipments On the Road

Discover TSI's specialty shipping services for packed boxes and furniture. 

Learn more