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

With the help of a $110,000 federal grant, Saanich will be adding 22 new EV chargers for its municipal fleet to reduce emissions from district operations. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich adds 22 new EV chargers for municipal fleet to reduce corporate emissions

Federal grant adds $110,000 jolt to project, installation to be completed fall 2022

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read