Online shoppers have Santa’s helpers and the United States Postal Service expecting to be busier than ever this year.
The USPS today said it expects to deliver 750 million packages this holiday season, or 5 million packages per day, up 12% from the roughly 670 million packages it delivered last year in November and December. Overall, the postal service projects it will deliver about 16 billion pieces of mail over the next month and a half.
The closer it gets to Christmas, the busier the USPS expects to be. Last year, marketing software company Custora reported that 5.4% of all online holiday orders were placed during the five days before Christmas.
“Thursday, Dec. 22, is expected to be the busiest delivery day for holiday packages, cards and letters,” the USPS writes. “The Postal Service anticipates nearly 30 million packages will be delivered on the peak delivery day alone.”
To help keep up with demand, a USPS spokeswoman says the carrier has hired 35,000 seasonal employees, up 20.7% from 29,000 last year. For the fourth year in a row, the USPS will offer Sunday delivery to all locations—not just major cities—nationwide during the holiday season.
The USPS is the latest carrier to announce its holiday projections and hiring plans. FedEx Corp. in September said it expects this to be a record-breaking holiday season, and earlier this month predicted package volume to increase about 10% year over year. Given that FedEx delivered 350 million packages during the 2015 holiday season, the carrier is likely to deliver 385 million packages this holiday season. To keep up with demand, FedEx has hired 50,000 seasonal employees.
Meanwhile, United Parcel Service Inc. projects that it will deliver more than 700 million packages in November and December, up 16.7% from 600 million last year. In mid-September, UPS announced it will hire 95,000 seasonal employees.
Those projected double-digit increases in package volume are in line with what the National Retail Federation, Deloitte and eMarketer Inc. have predicted for e-commerce sales. The NRF expects online sales to increase up to 10% year over year during the 2016 holiday season of November and December, eMarketer a 17.2% year-over-year increase for that same time period and Deloitte projects an increase of up to 19% for the holiday period it defines as November through January.