How Covid-19 Changed Peak Season Shipping Forever

Sep 16, 2021

4 min read

The pandemic has brought about the fastest, most complex environment for parcel shipping and services that the world has ever seen. And we’ve been left to navigate through its mist of uncertainty.

So as shippers turn the corner on peak season 2021, building a resilient supply chain should be a top priority.

Below is a quick snapshot of the last 18+ months to see not only what we’ve survived and learned, but how these events can help prepare your operations for the future.

Timeline of Covid-19 Affects on Shipping

January 9th, 2020The World Health Organization (WHO) announced mysterious coronavirus-related pneumonia in Wuhan, China.
January 30th, 2020WHO issues global health emergency
February 2020FedEx implements temporary shipping surcharges

UPS implements general rate increase (GRI) by up to 5.4%
March 11th, 2020The Center for Disease Control (CDC) declares COVID-19 pandemic
March/April 2020Countries start to seal their borders - schools/businesses close - people begin to social distance and wear masks

Container shipping is essentially halted temporarily in many countries to avoid it turning into the epicenter of the crisis

DHL & FedEx implement emergency surcharges
April/May 2020eCommerce sees a rise in online shopping with spending at $82.5B - up 77% YOY

UPS increases surcharges (beginning July 4th)

USPS suspends various services
June 2020FedEx further implements peak surcharges (beginning June 8th)
August 2020For the first time, USPS announces their peak surcharges
Fall 2020The world economy begins to slightly recover as factories and businesses reopen

But shipping lines remain thin with less staff and fewer ships, causing heavy delays and skyrocketing rates.

Consumer demand continues to rise - creating a ‘digital first economy.’

FedEx implements another surcharge increase up to 4.9%

USPS announces a large package surcharge
December 2020Consumer spending grew 31.3% over Nov. 2019

FedEx increases multiple peak season surcharges

Nearly $840B is spent at online stores (a milestone not projected to be reached until 2023)

Vaccines are approved and cleared for use
Winter 2020 - Spring 2021Winter storms create havoc throughout North America, delaying Covid-19 vaccine shipments and deliveries.

FedEx implements increases on parcel peak surcharges (including enterprise level customers)
March 2021Suez Canal blockage leads to a global shipping crisis.

The cost of beached and sitting containers only added to the rolling series of issues pummeling shippers.
May 2021FedEx increases peak season surcharges (effective June 21st)
June/July 2021California ports are congested (accounting for ⅓ of US imports) and contribute to significant shortages across the country.

UPS announces surcharges for Q3 & increases multiple peak season charges
August 2021Hurricane Ida hits the gulf coast of North America, causing a major impact on the overall export picture.

USPS releases their temporary rate adjustments for the holiday peak season
To Be Continued...Expect the unexpected - because there’s no telling what else could be thrown our way.

Challenges at the Beginning for Supply Chain Operations

From the very beginning, the pandemic caused significant setbacks for the shipping sectors of the world. It opened the curtains on all the areas where shipping fell vulnerable.

Stores were closed and ships were being docked. But millions of people still needed access to products and goods. Where did they turn?

Online shopping. Amazon. eCommerce.

And they haven’t looked back. 

Shippers had not only found themselves dealing with unprecedented demand from consumers but also with issues from production and exports – creating a nightmare for the parcel shipping industry.

Some businesses went under completely as an inability to cope with these torturous circumstances. They simply lacked a way to keep up with all the changing data and carrier requirements – let alone the insurmountable market that online shopping has become, plus natural disasters and weather delays.

The Pandemic Was Undoubtedly a Catalyst for the eCommerce Boom

Virtual shipping is still speeding along like a bullet train on a never-ending track. In fact, eCommerce jumped to levels not expected in parcel shipping for another 4 to 6 years, and that was just as of May 2020!

What’s growth look like now? 10 years ahead of what we were anticipating. (As of Aug. 2021) So we’re living in the future – kinda.

Growth may have skyrocketed into a new decade, but shippers have not advanced at the same rate – many of them continue to fall behind.

Because the reality is, during the pandemic, there were signs that these changes would become permanent. And the industry as a whole wasn’t (and still might not be) ready for it.

The Current Snapshot of Shipping

Shippers are experiencing today what we would have described as ‘peak’ before the global pandemic. Something shippers would spend months researching, understanding, and gathering data to prepare for.

Now we live in peak 24/7. 

Where every day is a challenge to meet the surging demands of consumers. What does the future look like? Will demand continue to soar?

There’s not a single industry expert that possesses the crystal ball for the future of parcel shipping, but in its stead, are systems in place that help shippers stay ahead.

The Future of Shipping

Okay, still no crystal ball here, but we specialize in data analytics and are coming to you with the facts: technology is the future of parcel shipping.

For example, 

Digitize your supply chain to:

  • Improve warehouse efficiency
  • Maintain accurate inventory management and improved collaboration
  • Reduce lead times
  • Conquer financial burdens and overhead costs
  • Make sure your cold chain is sustained from production to delivery

Get in front of carrier impact by:

It’s a no-brainer.

Logistics intelligence helps your business improve its decision-making process with real-time, accurate data. By converting your data into simplified and easy-to-navigate information, you’re able to make faster, more informed decisions. Are you ready to start rethinking your supply chain operations?

Build a Smarter Supply Chain with Logistics Intelligence Software from Sifted 

Your supply chain’s survival is dependent on making data-driven decisions to minimize losses, drive profits, and reduce your parcel spend. Sifted can help you make sense of your data, find your savings, run multiple scenarios to model your operations, and get end-to-end tracking.

Get a free demo today!


Check out related resources at Sifted.

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