With just a few days left before Christmas, retailers and carriers are ready to deliver the goods — on time. Or at least try.
As of press time on Dec. 19, Amazon was warning shoppers that there were just 4 days left to take advantage of Prime free shipping — for arrival by Dec. 24. The online giant was touting “last-minute” deals, mostly on electronics, which included a price drop on the Echo Dot to $24.99 from $49.99. It was also pushing Fire “kids edition” tablets for more than 40 percent off, and promoted gift items across multiple categories for $50 or less.
At walmart.com, the mass retailer noted on its site that customers could receive free, two-day delivery if they ordered by 11 a.m. Pacific time on Dec. 22. walmart.com was also pushing its buy online, pick up in-store service — sweetening the deal with special offers on home goods, electronics and toys.
Apparel items were also slashed, and in the beauty segment, walmart.com had steep rollback prices on fragrances — up to 40 percent off. Versace Eros Eau De Toilette Spray Cologne for Men (3.4 ounces) was marked down to $55.99 from $88, and along with other fragrance brands from Estée Lauder, Burberry and Calvin Klein, fragrances were also eligible for next day delivery.
Regarding carriers, consumers have been complaining on social media of delays over the past week. UPS said due to extreme weather and record e-commerce sales, shipping delays were expected. At the U.S. Postal Service, recommended send dates for delivery prior to Dec. 25 is Dec. 20 for first-class mail and Dec. 21 for priority mail. Priority mail express has a recommended send date of Dec. 23. The deadline for U.S. Postal Service “retail ground service” was last week.
On Wall Street, investors have been focused on how the feud between Amazon and FedEx plays out. In August, Amazon and FedEx officially split up — although customers could still get items from third-party sellers using FedEx. But Amazon has now banned third-party companies from using FedEx Ground. Amazon noted this was due to “performance issues.”
But that’s only part of FedEx’s headache at the moment. Even as the company said it will prevail in the long term, the carrier had some significant challenges in its most recent quarter. Earlier this week, FedEx delivered lower earnings than Wall Street expected, and also lowered its outlook for 2020.
Frederick W. Smith, founder, executive chairman and chief executive officer of FedEx, said in a call with analysts that the most recent quarter was “an anomaly because of the compressed shipping season before Christmas, necessitating a significant bow wave of expenses to handle volumes that will largely fall in our third fiscal quarter.”
Dragging down profits was “continuing trade disputes, including reductions in international air freight and tepid, at best, B2B domestic parcel and freight shipping.” Smith said by the fourth quarter of next year, and into the fiscal year 2021, things will improve.