There's no question that e-commerce has dramatically changed the way Americans shop for holiday gifts. Despite some grumbling from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, most agree that the change has been for the better. And it's been a boon to shipping companies, too.
Web shopping isn't going away, either; online holiday sales are forecast to climb 17 percent compared to last year, according to researchers at eMarketer. Consumers love shopping online for the low prices, seemingly infinite selection and instant gratification it usually delivers. Internet purchases also put smiles on faces at FedEx, one of Santa's delivery-service helpers responsible for turning the shopping season into a shipping season.
Increased e-commerce spending has contributed directly to an anticipated record holiday shipping volume for FedEx this year, the company said. FedEx expects to handle 280 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a 10 percent year-over-year increase since 2011.
Ground zero for this record-busting season for FedEx will be Monday, Dec. 10, when the company expects more than 19 million packages to move through its network, making it the busiest day in the company's history.
Those packages will travel to their final destinations aboard a fleet of more than 90,000 vehicles and 600 aircraft. Delivery modes will also range from electric tricycles and all-electric and hybrid-electric vans to, yes, boats and gondolas, the company said.
Dec. 10 also marks "Green Monday," a term coined by eBay to describe the best sales day on its sites in December and the traditional kick-off to the heaviest online shopping week of the year. According to comScore, an online research organization, U.S. consumers spent $1.1 billion on Green Monday last year, up 19 percent from the previous year.
While holiday shopping may be seasonal, preparation for the annual boost in sales can take much longer. FedEx has been ramping up for this busy holiday season for almost a year, said Michael Glenn, executive vice president of marketing development for the company.