OTTAWA – Canadians have just days remaining to ship parcels in time for Christmas after Canada Post moved up deadlines because of the unprecedented holiday demand caused by COVID-19.
The postal service has set various deadlines for this week but is still warning Canadians to expect delays.
While all deadlines for mail remain unchanged, the local deadline is Friday for Priority, Xpresspost, flat rate box and regular parcel services.
The regional deadline is Friday for Priority and Xpresspost, Wednesday to Friday for flat rate box and Monday to Wednesday for regular service.
The national deadline is Friday for Priority, Thursday for Xpresspost, last Friday to Thursday for flat rate box and last Wednesday to Tuesday for regular parcel services.
The changes come after Canada Post delivered a record 1.1 million parcels over the weekend.
“Not only are Canadians shopping online in record numbers for gifts and other items, we’ve also seen a huge influx of customers at post offices shipping gifts to replace their traditional holiday visits,” Canada Post said in a news release Monday.
Canada Post added weekend delivery in many communities, added more pickup locations and extended hours at many post offices.
It also improved its tracking technology so customers can follow the progress of their parcels.
Its plants have been running around the clock to process record volumes.
Canada Post ramped up its holiday service early and has added more than 4,000 seasonal employees, more than 1,000 vehicles to its fleet and worked with commercial customers to manage the flow of parcels.
On-time delivery guarantees were suspended in March due to the unique circumstances presented by operating during the pandemic this year.
Canada Post isn’t alone in grappling with record-setting demand for package deliveries.
Purolator, the courier service owned by the Crown corporation, said it doesn’t see this year’s increase in package volume slowing down, even after Christmas.
“We’re thinking this is going to be a uniquely steady pace even into the new year,” CEO John Ferguson said last week.
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.
It implemented a cutoff date of Dec. 22 for packages that are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas.
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.
UPS and DHL Express Canada are both anticipating record seasons. DHL’s volume in Canada is up 60 percent 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.