A Purolator driver wears a mask as he makes deliveries in Toronto, March 24, 2020. Purolator expects to deliver 46 million packages through its peak season this year, which runs through most of November and part of December, CEO John Ferguson said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

A Purolator driver wears a mask as he makes deliveries in Toronto, March 24, 2020. Purolator expects to deliver 46 million packages through its peak season this year, which runs through most of November and part of December, CEO John Ferguson said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Record demand for package delivery expected to continue into 2021

Both UPS and Purolator have added thousands of new employees since the start of this year

Courier services are grappling with a record-setting number of packages as the second wave of virus cases forces more people to do their holiday shopping online.

But unlike in every other year, when the surge subsided in the weeks after Christmas, this year’s increase in package volume is showing no signs of slowing down.

“We’re thinking this is going to be a uniquely steady pace even into the new year,” said John Ferguson, the CEO of Purolator, in an interview.

Purolator expects to deliver a record 46 million packages through its peak season this year, which runs through most of November and part of December, Ferguson said.

Package volume this holiday season is 10 per cent higher than the courier anticipated, even with an optimistic forecast, Ferguson said. Total deliveries are up 50 per cent this year compared with last year, while e-commerce deliveries are up between 80 and 100 per cent, with a major spike coming in August rather than around the holidays, Ferguson said.

Purolator’s experience has been shared by Canada’s other couriers, with UPS and DHL Express Canada both anticipating record seasons. DHL’s volume in Canada is up 60 per cent around the holidays this year, after being around 30 per cent higher earlier in the year.

“This is a continuation of a volume pattern that we saw evolving over the course of 2020,” said Andrew Williams, CEO of DHL Express Canada.

Williams added that he expected the additional volume from the peak season to last into January and possibly February, with many people shipping returns of goods purchased around the holidays.

Intelcom, a shipping company with offices across Canada, said it has also seen a slow buildup in volume towards the end of 2020, rather than a single spike.

“With the current pandemic, there has been a constant increase for several months,” an Intelcom spokesperson said. “We are currently meeting our planned initial targets and the number of daily packages we deliver is growing.”

READ MORE: Canada Post urges holiday shoppers to buy gifts early amid surge in online shopping

Williams said the slow buildup in volume has helped DHL to be more prepared for peak season, allowing it to take advantage of new investments in staffing and infrastructure that had already been in place earlier in the year. DHL Express Canada has hired about 600 additional employees since the start of the pandemic, Williams said.

Both UPS and Purolator have added thousands of new employees since the start of this year in an effort to manage the substantial increase in parcel shipping volume.

Purolator has also experimented with new ways of expediting the shipping process, including self-serve parcel lockers, low-speed electric vehicles in downtown areas and partnerships with retailers like Michaels.

Still, Ronnie Midlash, the owner of Save N Ship, a store in Montreal that works with major delivery services, said some couriers are experiencing backlogs because of the surge in packages.

“There are no guarantees,” Midlash said. “If they’re telling you two days, it could be four days.”

Ferguson said Purolator is not having issues with delivery times, but that the company encourages people to ship their packages early and is implementing a cutoff date of Dec. 22 for packages that are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas.

The increase in packages has been a boon for shipping services, but greater COVID-related costs, such as personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer for its couriers, have prevented companies from profiting more from the higher demand.

Ferguson said he doesn’t see those costs coming down any time soon, with virus cases continuing to climb in Canada.

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

pic1
Community Christmas card raises over $1,200 for local man

‘This year’s Christmas card proceeds were donated to Scott Douglas, who has lived in Erskine for 11 years’

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Stettler sign
Stettler Community Builders initiaitve continues to take shape

Project will honour Stettler citizens who were influential in the town’s history

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read