FedEx projects busier holiday peak

FedEx Busiest Day Projection
FedEx workers sort packages last December before loading them onto delivery trucks at the FedEx Express Station in New York. The company, based in Memphis, Tenn., forecasts it will ship 13 million packages on Dec. 14, 2009, which it expects to be its busiest day this year.Mark Lennihan / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

FedEx is predicting a little more holiday cheer this year.

The company, based in Memphis, Tenn., forecasts it will ship 13 million packages on Dec. 14, which it expects to be its busiest day this year.

That would be up more than 8 percent from the total of about 12 million packages shipped on its peak day last year. That was the busiest day ever for FedEx, due in part to a growing partnership with the U.S. Postal Service. Last year's volumes were also boosted because of rival DHL exiting the U.S. market.

It shipped about 11.5 million packages through its Ground and Express units on its busiest day in 2007.

FedEx Corp. ships about 7.5 million packages on an average day.

The delivery company bases its predictions on discussions with large customers and improving economic data.

"Clearly (last year) we were in the midst of the worst recession since World War II," Mike Glenn, executive vice president of market development, said in an interview. "But there are a number of factors that are encouraging as we head into this peak season."

Glenn was referring to improving home sales, retail sales growth projections and news of economic growth in the third quarter after four quarters of declines.

Both FedEx and larger rival United Parcel Service Inc. hire thousands of workers to account for the increased holiday haul each year.

This year, FedEx's Ground unit will add 14,000 additional part time and temporary workers during November and December. At FedEx Express, part-time and full-time employees work overtime as needed during the holiday season.

UPS spokesman Norman Black said the company, based in Atlanta, expects to hire about 50,000 seasonal workers in the U.S. this year. It hired 60,000 seasonal workers in 2007. It didn't release statistics in 2008.

All FedEx's shipment numbers include a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, where FedEx picks up or accepts shipments and delivers the packages to a post office for final delivery by a postal carrier.

Dec. 17 is the last day to guarantee delivery through FedEx Ground. Dec. 23 is the last day to ship via the company's Express service.

Both FedEx and UPS generally release their holiday peak predictions in November. But neither company offered predictions last year, citing economic uncertainty.

UPS expects to release a prediction later this month.