By Harry R. Weber
Thursday, December 25, 2008
ATLANTA, Dec. 24 -- Severe weather across the United States has caused a delivery backlog at FedEx, prompting the shipping company to take the extraordinary step of keeping all of its domestic sorting stations open for four hours on Christmas Day to allow customers to pick up packages.
Bigger rival UPS plans to maintain its tradition of giving all U.S. employees the holiday off, spokesman Norman Black said.
The U.S. Postal Service normally makes Express, or overnight deliveries on Christmas. It will have tens of thousands of people working Thursday because of the backlog due to the weather, spokeswoman Sue Brennan said. "We're going to try to get as many packages home as we can."
Memphis-based FedEx said it will keep all 665 of its Express service stations open from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday to allow customers to pick up packages.
FedEx's Express stations are where air shipments are sorted and delivered by vehicle to their final destination, so if a person is waiting for an air package and it hadn't been put on a plane by Wednesday, they will probably have to wait until after the holiday to get it, spokeswoman Carla Boyd said.
"What's exceptional about what we're doing is opening up all the stations in the U.S. because of the extraordinarily broad nature of the bad weather," Boyd said.
She said the company has had some Express stations open in certain parts of the country on the holiday before, but never all of them. Boyd said she couldn't quantify FedEx's backlog of air packages or the number of employees who will be working on Christmas.
Ahead of the holiday, the weather was especially bad in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Airports were recovering from a barrage of snow and ice storms.
FedEx shares rose 34 cents to close at $61.20 Wednesday, while UPS shares rose 23 cents to $52.89.