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Holiday shipping deadlines 2022: What you need to know

Holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, FedEx, and UPS, along with tips for managing holiday shipping.

[Updated post from October 21th, 2021]

The 2022 holiday season is right around the corner – and that means holiday shipping deadlines are, too.

In an era where consumers take next-day shipping and even same-day delivery services for granted, this means we’re not always prepared for the realities of holiday season e-commerce. 

Where consumers can normally rely on last-minute orders, this is a risky strategy during peak season. The longer you leave your holiday gift shopping, the less likely it is you’ll get your order on time.

Holiday shipping deadlines are a vital tool to help merchants manage customer expectations and minimize poor customer experiences resulting from late delivery. In this post, you’ll find the 2022 holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, FedEx, and UPS – along with some other pearls of wisdom for managing holiday shipping.

What are holiday shipping deadlines?

Holiday shipping cut-off dates refer to the last day that packages need to be shipped by a parcel carrier in order to reach their final destination in time for the holidays. If an order is shipped following the holiday shipping deadline stated, the carrier cannot guarantee it will arrive by the expected delivery date.

Carriers use cut off dates because parcel networks are put under serious strain during peak season. Q4 is the busiest time of year for postal services due to gift-giving holidays such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas all occurring within the same period, leading to a massive surge in small parcel volumes bound for home delivery.

Holiday shipping deadlines help to ease the pressure by spreading out deliveries and helping merchants to plan their holiday shipping strategies more effectively.

The shipping deadlines chosen will depend on several factors, including:

  • The parcel carrier or courier service
  • The service level e.g. ground service pickup versus next day air
  • The destination of the delivery

International orders, for example, have much earlier cut-off dates than domestic shipments, which can have deadlines as late as Christmas Eve for priority services.

How can merchants handle holiday shipping deadlines effectively?

Give customers plenty of notice about cut-off dates

Holiday shipping deadlines are typically released by carriers at the beginning of the holiday shopping season (late September to the beginning of October). As soon as the schedule has been released, it’s important to communicate this to your customers to avoid disappointment. For example, you can add a banner on the home page of your website with the relevant dates or post a countdown on social media as cut-off dates get closer.

Add on some extra time to be on the safe side 

During the holiday season, merchants don’t just have carrier shipping deadlines to worry about. Brands also need to factor in their own lead times for processing and fulfilling orders. Delays in dispatching orders for shipping are common at peak season due to labor shortages or technical issues, which could result in some orders missing your carrier’s cut-off date. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be conservative and a few days on top of your carrier’s deadline to ensure all orders get shipped on time.

Use shipping promotions to drive earlier ordering 

Every consumer has slightly different holiday shipping needs. Some shoppers will have bought all of their gifts by Halloween, while others will still be placing orders just shy of Christmas Day. By incentivizing your customers to place their orders earlier and avoid late delivery, you can minimize the number of upset shoppers who may go on to post negative reviews about your brand. Offering free shipping on all orders placed before a certain date, for example, helps to drive urgency and avoid late shipments.

2022 holiday shipping deadlines

Below is a list of holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, FedEx, and UPS services. For more information on these deadlines, check the individual carrier’s website.

USPS holiday shipping deadlines for 2022

Domestic (US mainland)

USPS Retail Ground Service: Dec. 15, 2022

USPS First Class Mail and First-Class Package Service®: Dec. 17, 2022

USPS Priority Mail: Dec. 19, 2022

USPS Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23, 2022

Domestic (Alaska and Hawaii)

Alaska

USPS Retail Ground Service: Dec. 2, 2022

USPS First-Class Mail and First-Class Package Service: Dec. 18, 2022

Priority Mail Service: Dec. 18, 2022

Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 21, 2022

Hawaii

USPS Retail Ground Service: N/A

USPS First-Class Mail and First-Class Package Service: Dec. 17, 2022

Priority Mail Service: Dec. 17, 2022

Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 21, 2022

International

Africa

First-Class Package International Service: Nov. 29, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Nov. 29, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 20, 2022

Asia/Pacific Rim

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 20, 2022

Australia/New Zealand

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 20, 2022

Canada

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 22, 2022

Caribbean

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 21, 2022

Central & South America

First-Class Package International Service: Nov. 29, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Nov. 29, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 22, 2022

Europe

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 21, 2022

Mexico

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 22, 2022

Middle East

First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6, 2022

Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13, 2022

Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 20, 2022

Check here for all USPS holiday shipping deadlines

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines 2022

Domestic express services

FedEx Same Day: Dec. 23, 2022

FO, PO, SO, Extra Hours: Dec. 22, 2022

2Day & 2Day AM: Dec. 21, 2022

FedEx Express Saver: Dec. 20, 2022

FedEx 1Day Freight: Dec. 22, 2022

FedEx 2Day Freight: Dec. 21, 2022

FedEx 3Day Freight: Dec. 20, 2022

Domestic ground services

FedEx Ground Contiguous U.S.: Dec. 14, 2022

FedEx Ground Alaska and Hawaii: Dec. 14, 2022

FedEx Home Delivery Contiguous U.S.: Dec. 14, 2022

FedEx Home Delivery Alaska and Hawaii: Dec. 14, 2022

FedEx Home Delivery Ground Economy: Dec. 8, 2022

International

Canada

FedEx International Next Flight: Dec. 23, 2022

FedEx International First: Dec. 22, 2022

FedEx International Priority: Dec. 17, 2022

FedEx International Priority: Dec. 17, 2022

Distribution FedEx International: Dec. 16, 2022

Economy FedEx International Connect Plus: Dec. 15, 2022

Mexico 

FedEx International Next Flight: Dec. 23, 2022

FedEx International First: Dec. 21, 2022

FedEx International Priority: Dec. 21, 2022

FedEx International Economy: Dec. 20, 2022

FedEx International Connect Plus: Dec. 20, 2022

Puerto Rico

FedEx International Next Flight: Dec. 23, 2022

FedEx International First: Dec. 21, 2022

FedEx International Priority Distribution: Dec. 21, 2022

FedEx International Economy: Dec. 20, 2022

Check here for all FedEx holiday shipping deadlines.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines 2022

UPS is yet to release its complete list of shipping deadlines for 2022, so here are some projects based on last year’s cut-off dates (this section will be updated as soon as the deadlines are available).

Domestic

UPS® Ground Shipping: Dec. 11, 2022

UPS Next Day Air®: Dec. 23, 2022

UPS 2nd Day Air®: Dec. 22, 2022

UPS® 3 Day Select: Dec. 21, 2022

International

Canada

UPS Worldwide Expedited: Dec. 21, 2022

UPS Worldwide Express services: Dec. 23, 2022

Mexico

UPS Worldwide Expedited: Dec. 21, 2022

UPS Worldwide Express services: Dec. 22, 2022 

What merchants need to keep in mind for the 2022 holiday shipping season

Holiday shopping will begin earlier

Thanks to worries about more price increases and the need to spread out holiday spending, consumers are starting their gift-buying earlier than ever before.

According to 4Over’s recent survey, 73% of consumers are expecting additional price hikes during the holiday season. As a result, 31% say they plan to start their holiday shopping in early November, while 23% plan to buy gifts as soon as possible.

Naturally, this has a big impact on what proportion of orders are going to be placed at what time. While earlier shopping means that fewer orders are going to come close to shipping cutoff dates, there are still the laggards to watch out for.

Peak season surcharges are at a record-high

Seasonal surcharges have already been a major feature throughout the pandemic, and this is set to continue this holiday season. With parcel carriers continuing to experience unprecedented demand for home delivery services, residential deliveries and high-volume shippers are set to experience the biggest fees.

For many merchants, this is going to require careful management to prevent increased shipping costs from eroding their profit margins. Check out our full guide on 2022 peak surcharges to find out how you can still ensure a profitable holiday season.

Free shipping is an expectation

There are some years when consumers are laser-focused on shipping speed. Thanks to high inflation, it’s all about price in 2022. According to a holiday survey by Ipsos, 75% of holiday shoppers said they will prioritize shopping with stores that offer free shipping.

Given the massive financial hit that many households have taken this year, it’s not surprising that shipping costs are a major factor in holiday purchasing decisions.

But merchants need to be aware that offering free shipping during the holidays has a range of pros and cons that can make or break a business’s profitability. If you’re embarking on a free shipping strategy, you need to make sure you’re using the right approach. 

For ways to offer free shipping without breaking the bank, see our dedicated guide on how to offer free shipping during the holiday season

It’s clear that merchants will be grappling with a range of challenges during the 2022 holiday season. In addition to ongoing supply chain challenges and slowing consumer spending, consumer expectations for fast and seamless delivery are putting huge pressure on in-house fulfillment operations. To achieve a successful and profitable holiday season, there’s little room for error.

By partnering with an experienced e-commerce fulfillment provider like Ryder E-commerce By Whiplash, e-commerce brands gain access to the very best shipping experts and carrier partnerships to capitalize on the growth opportunities of the holiday season. Whether it’s the most cost-effective shipping rates or effective last-mile delivery, Ryder E-commerce By Whiplash is the ultimate partner to help you navigate the complexities of the e-commerce landscape.

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