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Holidays online

Shipping surge linked to shopping spike

USPS employee
Jaime Mazariego, an Anaheim, CA, carrier technician, delivers holiday packages last year.

Major increases in online shopping are expected to drive the surge in USPS holiday package deliveries this year.

The Postal Service predicts it will deliver 850 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, up more than 10 percent from last year.

The numbers don’t surprise retail analysts, who say more shoppers will skip trips to the mall this year to do their shopping online.

“All signs are that this will be a busy holiday season,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation.

Almost 60 percent of consumers in the federation’s annual holiday survey said the internet will be their primary shopping destination this year — the first time the online option has topped traditional venues like department stores and discount stores.

Meanwhile, the Deloitte consulting firm predicts online sales will be in the $111 billion-$114 billion range, up 18-21 percent from last year.

To accommodate the shipping spike, USPS will offer holiday package deliveries seven days a week in select cities, beginning Nov. 26.

The Postal Service is also touting Informed Delivery, a free feature that allows users to view incoming mail, track packages and schedule deliveries.

Total retail sales — including purchases from brick-and-mortar stores — are expected to rise 4-6 percent this year.

Analysts cite several factors for the sales spike, although when it comes to online purchases, one reason reigns supreme.

“The magic words … are free shipping,” said Richard Feinberg, a Purdue University retail management expert who forecasts a 15-17 percent increase in online holiday shopping.

“Consumers expect to see free shipping, and know they can get free shipping from someone if you do not give it.”

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