As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge across the U.S., more people have turned to online shopping this holiday season—and delivery services can’t keep up.
On Wednesday, the UPS ordered drivers to temporarily stop picking up orders from six retailers after too many packages exceeded the shipping giant’s capacity. The retailers include Gap, Nike, L.L. Bean, Hot Topic, Newegg, and Macy’s.
The move, which some drivers say they had not seen in previous holiday seasons, is likely to ensure the service does not take on more than it can handle. It’s unclear how long the restrictions will last.
A UPS spokesman told CNBC on Wednesday that the carrier had set “specific capacity allocations” for its customers over the holiday season. Retailers were also advised by carriers to spread out online promotions beyond Black Friday, and many started their sales as early as October.
Both UPS and FedEx upped their shipping rates earlier this year, as many retailers have been bombarded with online sales that have pushed carriers to their limits for most of the pandemic. In October, UPS announced it would hire 100,000 workers to accommodate the holiday shipping rush, while FedEx said in September that it planned to hire 70,000.
According to Adobe Analytics, Thanksgiving saw $5.1 billion in online sales, and Black Friday racked up $9 billion. In-store shopping on Black Friday saw a 52% decrease from last year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions. Cyber Monday brought in $10.8 billion in online sales, a 15% increase from last year.