Walmart to Stay Open Until 8pm on Christmas Eve

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Has ‘Free Shipping Day’ become irrelevant?.

The race is on among retailers to capture what remains of Americans’ holiday shopping dollars. Nearly 1,100 retailers are participating in so-called Free Shipping Day on Friday, but with so many retailers offering complimentary shipping on a regular basis, some question whether we need a special day for this perk. “I think it’s kind of silly now,” said Jarrett Streebin, founder and chief executive of EasyPost, a shipping logistics company helping businesses manage services through United Parcel Service Inc. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company announced on Friday that it plans to keep its stores open until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve to accommodate the 80% of Americans it estimates haven’t yet completed their holiday shopping. In a press release, Walmart stressed the consumer demand for Star Wars related merchandise. “We’re stocked up on Star Wars merchandise and other top gifts in our stores and online because one of the biggest frustrations for last minute shoppers is not being able to find the gift they want,” Steve Breen, senior vice president of merchandising for Walmart.com, said in a statement. Like archival FedEx, UPS is eager to avoid a repeat of the disaster two years ago, when millions of packages didn’t get delivered on time for Christmas.

More than a third of all holiday consumers (36%) are last-minute shoppers who buy most of their gifts between Dec. 11 and Dec. 31, according to Cardlytics, a purchase-based data intelligence company. In addition to hiring an extra 95,000 workers to help out during the holiday season, UPS has bolstered how quickly it can marshal all the transportation equipment at its disposal, including nearly 100,000 package cars, vans, tractors, and other vehicles, as well as 237 company-owned jets and another 302 chartered aircraft. The company also works with major railroads such as BNSF, CN, CSX, CP, FEC, KCS, Union Pacific, and Norfolk Southern. “We’re able to look at where the weather is impacting us in what part of the country,” said Wallace, who was appointed to his role earlier this year. “If an interstate is closed and rail is still moving, we may choose to put on rail rather than road to get to a destination hub.” UPS can also deploy “Ready Teams,” or extra personnel, to help workers at delivery centers cope with an onslaught of packages.

E-commerce grew 13.6% year-over-year between Thanksgiving and Dec. 15, according to ChannelAdvisor, an e-commerce solutions company that works with online retailers. The odds of ice between Tuesday and Christmas anywhere in the contiguous 48 states are nearly nil, and the odds of snow are minimal and limited to relatively unpopulated areas, according to Planalytics, a consulting firm that advises retailers on dealing with weather headaches. “We do feel actually quite good about the weather forecast,” said Wallace.

Last year, UPS increased its points of delivery when it introduced its “Access Point” program, which lets customers pick up their packages at dry cleaners, convenience stores, and drugstores. Altogether, that gives UPS the muscle it needs to get packages to homes in time for Santa’s arrival, Wallace said, barring the mass closing of airports or highways or other modes of transportation.

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