Shipping Cut Off Dates and Surcharges for 2021 Holidays

Just a few weeks ago, it was summer. And just a few weeks from now, the holidays will be upon us. Not only that, but we are facing our second holiday shopping – and shipping – season in the middle of a global pandemic. According to Deloitte, e-commerce volumes are expected to grow between 11% and 15% compared to 2020’s blockbuster figures, and major carriers are now forecasting that peak demand will exceed capacity by millions of packages.

All this means that FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service will have earlier holiday shipping deadlines than ever this year, making it important for retailers to plan ahead for shipping products for the 2021 holiday sales season. And particularly for larger volume shippers, holiday shipping surcharges continue to increase. Let’s take a look at how you can plan ahead for this busiest season ever.

2021 shipping deadlines

This year, holiday shipping cutoff dates run as early as December 9, with increasingly expensive shipping options as you get closer to December 25. Here is a rundown of estimated holiday shipping deadlines:

USPS

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Retail Ground™ Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
First Class Mail® Friday, December 17th, 2021
Priority Mail® Saturday, December 18th, 2021
Priority Mail Express® Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

FedEx

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx SmartPost® Thursday, December 9th, 2021 (with exceptions)
FedEx Ground® Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
Home Delivery® Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
Express Saver® Tuesday, December 21st, 2021
2Day® Services Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021
Overnight® Services Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

UPS

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Ground® Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
3 Day Select® Tuesday, December 21st, 2021
2nd Day Air® Services Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021
Next Day Air® Services Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Shipping surcharges

The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and … holiday shipping surcharges. And with demand far exceeding supply this holiday season, FedEx and UPS are coping by continuing a recent trend: holiday surcharges, particularly for high-volume shippers.

This article breaks down current fees for 2021. Here is a quick rundown of some of the key ones – in both cases, as per-package surcharges for shippers with previous weekly volumes over 25,000 packages:

FedEx

Service Surcharge
SmartPost $1.50 – $3.00
Ground Economy $1.50 – $3.00
Ground Delivery $1.15 – $5.00
Home Delivery $1.15 – $5.00
Express Residential $2.15 – $6.00

UPS

Service Surcharge
SurePost $1.15 – $5.15
Ground Residential $1.50 – $3.00
Express Residential $2.15 – $6.15

These surcharges apply during the holiday shipping period, starting November 1 for FedEx and October 31 for UPS. There are also additional holiday surcharges for additional handling and oversize packages, the latter of which ranges as high as $62.

Address Correction Fees

In addition to surcharges, FedEx and UPS will charge additional fees when address corrections are required, which also negates their on-time guarantees. These fees take the form of an audit fee that’s applied for any shipping address corrections.  Many shippers see these as a part of doing business, but address correction fees are ones that can be prevented.

When a shipper inputs an incorrect address, the carrier will attempt to correct this address for a hefty fee, see below:

Carrier Address Correction Fee
USPS none
FedEx $18.00
UPS $18.00

Notably, these surcharges have all increased substantially from their 2020 rates, in some cases nearly doubling from 2019 levels. By all indications, these fees are here to stay and will continue to increase in the future.

A friendly reminder

The important thing to remember for this holiday season is that holiday surcharges, address correction fees and missed deadlines can often be avoided. Some retailers are using multiple carriers to avoid volume-based shipping charges, setting realistic ordering and shipping deadlines for customers, and optimizing shipments – and everyone can benefit from planning ahead.

Finally, as always, accurate shipping data is more important than ever for avoiding missed delivery deadlines and address correction fees – and of course, we can help with that. Happy holidays!

New resources, straight to your inbox

Get updates on the latest industry trends, tips, and news.