Package handler Chris Addison arranges packages before loading a delivery truck at a FedEx sorting facility in Kansas City, Mo. Santa's sleigh didn't make it in time for Christmas for some this year due to shipping problems at UPS and FedEx. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Santa’s sleigh didn’t make it in time for Christmas for some this year because of shipping problems at UPS and FedEx.

The delays were blamed on poor weather earlier this week in parts of the country as well as overloaded systems. The holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, more buying was done online and Americans’ tendency to wait until the last possible second to shop probably didn’t help either.

Neither company said how many packages were delayed but noted it was a small share of overall holiday shipments. Although the bulk of consumers’ holiday spending remains at physical stores, shopping online is increasingly popular and is outstripping spending growth in stores at the mall.

“UPS is experiencing heavy holiday volume and making every effort to get packages to their destination; however, the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed,” United Parcel Service said in a service advisory online Wednesday.

UPS did not make pickups or deliveries Wednesday and plans to resume normally scheduled service Thursday.

UPS delivery man Vinny Ambrosino prepares to deliver packages on Christmas Eve while wearing a Rudolf nose and antlers in New York. (CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

Some FedEx customers were able to pick up packages Christmas Day at their local FedEx Express centers.

“We’re sorry that there could be delays, and we’re contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup,” said Scott Fiedler, a FedEx spokesman.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments, Fiedler said. Those that were not delivered in time, he said, “would be very few.”

The problems appear to have affected many parts of the country. The Associated Press spoke to people in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and other states who didn’t receive presents in time for Christmas.

Jeff Cormier and his Dallas family were among those whose gifts never arrived. He said he had three separate UPS packages — including two for which he paid extra for expedited shipping — delayed.

“I’ve had to apologize to three different people when I thought I had everything wrapped up and good to go way before,” he said.

On Sunday, Eric Swanson ordered a doll for his daughter and a sweater for his wife through an online merchant. There was a promise of two-day delivery, which would have delivered the gifts to his Carmichael, Calif., home just in time for Christmas. One was shipped via UPS, and the other FedEx. Online tracking tools said the packages would arrive by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Neither did.

— Associated Press