If you were planning to do your holiday shopping from the comfort of home, scooping up bargains with a click, you should know that you may have to pay a little more this year since UPS is tacking on a holiday delivery surcharge during the busiest weeks of the year.
In a first for the delivery company, UPS will charge “Peak” rates during certain periods: Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 2., it’ll cost $0.27 per package for all ground shipments sent to residential addresses.
The surcharges then go away during the early December lull, but return with a vengeance for last-minute shoppers: Between Dec. 17-23, there’s a $.27 surcharge for ground shipments, $.81 for Next-Day Air, and a $.97 fee for two- or three-day delivery.
An extra $.27-$.97 per package might not seem like a lot at first, but retailers — who ship out thousands, sometimes millions — of packages via UPS during the holidays will be facing a choice: Add the fee to the customer’s bill, raise prices a bit (or not lower them as much), or eat the surcharge as a cost of doing business. This may be a particularly tough deal for online retailers who promise free ground shipping.
The money UPS makes from these charges it can use to offset expenses for things like seasonal workers, additional delivery trucks, and other operational costs involved with surviving the holidays: During the 2016 holiday season, UPS’s average daily volume was more than 30 million packages on more than half of the available shipping days, the company says. To handle that volume, UPS hired about 95,000 seasonal employees to handle the peak shipping period.