Canada Post ramping up for holiday season amid COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues

BARRIE — Canada Post says it is adding additional staff and vehicles in anticipation of another busy holiday season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Canada Post told CTVNews.ca in an email Saturday that the company “continues to ramp up for a busy peak holiday season as Canadians have become much more comfortable shopping online during the pandemic.”

The company said in 2020, during the two weeks ending on Christmas Eve, its employees delivered almost 20 million parcels to Canadians. A record 2.4 million of which were delivered on Dec. 21.

But, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and persistent global supply chain issues, should Canadians be worried about holiday package delivery delays?

Here’s a closer look at what’s going on.

GET HOLIDAY SHOPPING DONE EARLY

David Soberman is a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

He told CTVNews.ca that ultimately, shipping companies like Canada Post are the “last link,” when it comes to the global supply chain and getting goods to consumers.

“Most of the problems in the supply chain are occurring at the retail level and further upstream,” he said during a telephone interview on Saturday.

Beyond ramping up their capacity to deal with an influx of packages during the holiday season, Soberman said there’s not much else shipping companies can do to mitigate these issues for consumers.

He said customers should make sure they check the estimated delivery date listed online by retailers, to ensure their holiday gifts will arrive on time.

However, Soberman cautioned that some specific, popular items might be especially hard to find this year.

“What someone’s going to do if they go into Canadian Tire and they can’t find something – they’re going to start to look on Amazon.ca, or they’ll maybe they’ll look on Walmart.ca,” he said. “And then they’ll start looking on other sites.”

He said if everyone looking for the same item does the same, “eventually you won’t be able to get it.”

“And that’s what’s going to happen with some of the more popular items – certain toys, certain board games, certain electronics, etc.,” he said.

Consumers should try to get their holiday shopping done as early as possible, Soberman said, and should have back-up gift ideas for their loved ones, in case the item they want is unavailable.

Soberman also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying if new variants are detected in Canada, or the pandemic? worsens, some areas could see new lockdowns or restrictions, which could impede holiday shopping.

“The sooner you get your shopping done the better,” he said.

WHAT HAS CANADA POST SAID?

Canada Post said it encourages customers to “take the time and do their research online with retailers to understand the availability of certain items and ensure they aren’t disappointed.”

The company has also released a schedule for sending holiday cards and packages. The dates vary depending on what you are sending and where.

The deadline to send a package by regular mail to an address in Canada is Dec. 9, while customers have until Dec. 21 to ship priority packages within Canada.

The deadline to send a card nationally is Dec. 17.

The full details, including deadlines to send packages internationally can be found here.

Canada Post said the company is also taking several measures to keep up with the busy holiday season.

The company said it is hiring 4,200 additional seasonal staff across the country and is adding 1,400 more vehicles to its fleet.

Canada Post is also “leveraging new sortation capacity” recently added in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Kitchener, Montreal and Moncton.

The company said it is also adding “temporary parcel pickup locations” in major urban centres and secondary markets to “ease congestion and lineups for holiday parcel pickup at some of our busier post offices.”

WHAT HAS UPS SAID?

In an email to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for UPS didn’t note any shipping delay concerns, but said the company’s “dedicated employees make UPS well-equipped to handle the challenges of the pandemic and the peak holiday season.”

The company said by the end of next year, it will have also added 49 new aircraft to its fleet since 2017, and said it will have added two million square feet of automated facilities by the end of the year. According to UPS, almost 90 per cent of its packages will flow through these automated facilities.

UPS said the investments in additional air and ground capacity and technology means it can process about 130,000 more pieces of mail per hour than last year.

CTVNews.ca also reached out to Amazon and FedEx to determine if Canadian customers can expect to see shipping delays, but did not hear back by time of publication.  

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