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

Just Posted

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) were deployed to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device on Jan. 20. (Google/Screencap)
UPDATED: Bomb disposal unit still determining nature of suspicious device found on Salt Spring Island

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Most Read