Nov. 23, 2015—Peak season usually is the most wonderful time of the year for shipping companies thanks to a surge in holiday orders. But this year, it is highlighting the growing gap between the transportation industry’s haves and have-nots.
Peak season was a no show for railroads, truckers and ocean carriers—a time when incoming containers to ports in the fall can rise as much as 15 percent, according to Hackett Associates.
But for those specializing in online holiday shipping—FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service Inc., the U.S. Postal Service and Deutsche Post AG’s DHL—their peaks are yet to come and they are expecting big ones.
That is because of a stark disconnect between online and brick-and-mortar shopping expectations this year. Physical retailers are sitting on near record-high inventories as consumer spending hasn’t yet caught up with hopes of a surge stoked by low gasoline prices. They are also employing new methods of inventory management for the holidays, including shipping items sold online from some stores and stocking fewer goods in others as they attempt to better predict rapidly shifting consumer demand, resulting in more packages.
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