Finding the perfect holiday gift can be stressful. But making sure presents can get delivered by the United States Postal Service, FedEx or other shippers on time is a totally separate mental strain — especially for last-minute shoppers.
This year, thanks in part to supply chain improvements after the pandemic, gifts for your family and friends are likely to be on store shelves or in a warehouse ready to ship, rather than stuck on a cargo ship or unfinished in a factory.
This gives you more time to shop, but also means you can’t pass the buck if presents arrive late.
You can’t blame the supply chain
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for electronics and other types of work-from-home equipment squeezed the global supply chain. Consumers also saw increased shipping costs and extended delivery times as widespread lockdowns disrupted logistic networks.
This holiday season, the Global Supply Chain Pressure Index, a metric developed by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, shows operations looking much more promising. Smooth operational flow means buyers have roughly a little over a week from now to place and receive orders by Christmas.
Mary Lovely, an economic expert and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said “it’s quite remarkable” to see shipping logistics return to normal this year.
When producers face the kinds of pressures that can raise shipping costs and make consumers wait longer for their packages, the GSCPI goes up. When producers and shippers face fewer constraints and the global supply chain hums along, it goes down.
Lovely said that when supply chains are under pressure from shipping issues, it’s usually because there’s a surge in demand or a breakdown in the infrastructure that keeps goods moving.
“Shipping is not going to be the problem to keep things out of stores. Now suppliers, manufacturers, retailers may still misjudge what people want. There’s oftentimes, you know, one toy that people really want that they can’t get, because everybody else decides they need dancing Elmo at the same time,” Lovely said. “But this is not that.”
The GSCPI dropped this year after hitting a record high in 2021 and remaining raised in 2022. The index last saw numbers this low in 2008, during the financial crisis heading into a global recession. We’re not facing a recession, according to Lovely, but world trade has lessened as a result of a “slowed” economy.
“So what you have is in the U.S. a healthy economy — lots of people working and an unemployment rate that is still low — and yet people are able to get their items. So, in some ways, a very good situation for this Christmas,” Lovely said.
How long do you have to send gifts?
Now that supply chains are back to normal, the rest is on you. USPS said it’s in a “strong” position this holiday season, and their courier’s Delivering for America plan will be the most affordable way to ship and mail this year.
“Our commitment is unwavering, and our preparation is thorough. We have been strategically planning early and leveraging significant investments in our people, infrastructure, delivery network, and technology,” Postmaster General and CEO Louis DeJoy said in a release.
FedEx said it’s ready to deliver “outstanding” service this over the next weeks and planned for this season all year.
“With the fastest ground service and broadest weekend residential coverage in the industry, along with earlier commit times for express deliveries, our dedicated team members have been planning all year to ensure our customers have the utmost confidence and peace of mind when they choose FedEx,” said Brie Carere, chief customer officer at FedEx, in a statement.
UPS didn’t provide a statement on their holiday preparations. All three delivery services have recommended the following shipping deadlines for expected delivery in the U.S. before Dec. 25: