Breaking down the impact of COVID-19 on
carrier rates and services
September 4, 2020
Few could have predicted what 2020 had in store. The pandemic has had a profound impact on individuals, families, and businesses of all sizes. The way we interact with family and friends, the way we work, and even the way we shop has drastically changed.
In the early days of the pandemic, online shopping sales soared – from groceries, household items and medicine to toys, books, and electronics – and they are expected to keep pace through the holiday season. E-commerce sales alone rose to $82.5 billion in May 2020, eclipsing numbers for the entire online 2019 holiday shopping season1.
Deemed essential from the beginning, carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx have taken slightly different approaches in response to increased expenses and heightened demands amid COVID-19. Each carrier made changes in the following areas:
Biggest USPS Change: Temporary Rate Change
USPS made a few initial adjustments to their services but was the only carrier to keep delivery guarantees in place. Ahead of the peak holiday season, USPS has announced a temporary rate increase to their commercial-based pricing. If you’re sending a Priority Mail package you’ll see an increase of $0.40 on commercial-based rates and if you’re sending a Priority Mail Express package you’ll see an increase of $1.50 on commercial-based rates. Even with the peak holiday increase, clients with software that offers commercial-based pricing (i.e. SendPro Online, SendPro Enterprise) will still save up to 38.4% off Priority Mail retail rates2 and up to 14.93% off Priority Mail Express retail rates3.
In addition to the temporary rate change, USPS has extended Priority Mail services and First-Class Package Mail Service commitments by 1 day to keep up with demand.
More information on the USPS temporary rate change can be found here.
Biggest UPS Change: Suspended delivery guarantee
UPS was the first carrier to suspend services at the start of the pandemic but hasn’t adjusted their service offerings much since for lower volume shippers. They also implemented surcharges for higher volume shippers early on, but unless you’re shipping 25k+ packages/week you’re unaffected. UPS did, however, recently announce peak surcharges that could impact mid-volume shippers during the holiday season.
Peak UPS Holiday Season Surcharges*
|Other Charges||Peak Period: October 4, 2020 to January 16, 2021|
|Additional Handling||$5 per package.|
|Large Package||$50 per package|
|Over Maximum Limits||$250 per package|
*Customers who (1) ship more than 1,000 total packages inany week during the Peak Period, or (2) ship more than 10 packages combined that are Large Packages, Over Maximum Limits, or require Additional Handling in any week during the Peak Period
These peak surcharges will be waived for SendPro® Online and SendPro device clients that have opened a UPS account within the application itself*. Click here to learn more.
*Multi-carrier subscription required
More information on UPS’s COVID-19 response can be found here.
Biggest FedEx Change: Temporary Surcharges
Effective 6/8 - Present
Similar to UPS, FedEx also suspended money back delivery guarantee early on in the pandemic but has taken a different approach to offsetting rising expenses. In June, they implemented a series of temporary surcharges on oversized packages and qualifying SurePost packages. In anticipation of a surge in residential deliveries during the holiday season, they’ve announced a new set of peak surcharges including a FedEx SurePost peak surcharge, plus oversized charges, additional handling charges, and residential delivery charges that will apply to other service levels.
More information on these FedEx surcharges can be found here.
For a closer look at carrier changes, download our COVID-19 Impact on Carrier Services Overview.
This article was published on September 1, 2020. The impacted carrier services and rates outlined above are accurate as of that date. We recommend also visiting individual carrier websites frequently for their latest service and COVID related updates.
1Adobe Digital Economy Index report.
2Priority Mail savings based on a 10lb, Zone 4 shipment.
3PriorityMail Express savings based on a 10lb, Zone 5 shipment.