Busiest shipping day of the year

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PHOENIX -- The clock is ticking. If you're planning to ship some holiday cheer today, you'll want to be  prepared. It's expected to be the busiest shipping day of the year, and possibly a record-setting day for FedEx.

The corporation says it anticipates handling about 16 million packages worldwide Monday. That's about 13 percent more than FedEx's busiest day last year and double the volume of an average day.

“FedEx has been preparing for the seasonal surge of packages for almost a year ...,"  said T. Michael Glenn, executive vice president of Market Development at FedEx. “The holiday delivery season is an exciting time for FedEx team members around the world—from the drivers and couriers who deliver each box, to the route planners and on-staff meteorologists who help ensure we maintain our excellent customer service levels.”

About half of the bump in traffic this holiday season is from FedEx SmartPost shipments, which are mostly from online retailers and catalogers. FedEx moves these shipments from the retailers to U.S. Postal Service facilities. USPS then handles the final delivery.

If you have not plotted out your shipping plan of action yet, you do still have time. FedEx says you need to have your packages on the way by specific dates, depending on the service you choose.
      Dec. 15 -- FedEx SmartPost® (not guaranteed)
      Dec. 17 -- FedEx Home Delivery® and FedEx Ground®
      Dec. 21 -- FedEx Express Saver®
      Dec. 22 -- FedEx 2Day®
      Dec. 23 -- FedEx Standard Overnight®, FedEx Priority Overnight® and FedEx First Overnight®
      Dec. 25 -- FedEx SameDay®

If the United State Postal Service is your preferred method of shipping -- they're expecting about 9.5 million cards and letters today alone -- the deadlines are similar.

To ensure your gifts arrive on time, USPS suggests the following mail-by dates:
      Dec. 15 — Parcel Post
      Dec. 20 — First-Class Mail
      Dec. 21 — Priority Mail, the best bargain in shipping
      Dec. 22 — Express Mail

Holiday business is also booming for UPS, which is now requiring customers to show government-issued photo ID at its retail locations.

"Since retail centers experience a significant increase in business from occasional shippers during the busy holidays, this enhancement adds a prudent step in our multi-layered approach to security," said Dale Hayes, UPS vice president of small business and retail marketing.

With shipping deadlines come shopping deadlines. The National Retail Federation is predicting that this week will be the busiest online shopping week of the year.