UPS temporarily stops order pickup from Nike, Gap due to holiday shopping surge.

A UPS driver stands in his truck and unloads packages.

A UPS driver in San Francisco in July.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

With coronavirus cases and hospital stays increasing in the US, more and more people are turning to online shopping this Christmas time – and delivery services can’t keep up.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that UPS ordered drivers to temporarily stop picking up orders from six retailers after too many packages exceeded the shipping giant’s capacity. Retailers include Gap, Nike, LL Bean, Hot Topic, Newegg, and Macy’s. The paper reports that the move, which some drivers haven’t seen over the past holiday seasons, is likely to ensure the service doesn’t take on more than it can handle. It is unclear how long the restrictions will last.

A UPS spokesman told CNBC on Wednesday that the airline had set “specific capacity allocations” for its customers during the holiday season. Retailers were also instructed by carriers to run online promotions beyond Black Friday, and many began their sales as early as October.

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Both UPS and FedEx increased their shipping costs earlier this year as many retailers were bombarded with online sales that pushed carriers to their limits for most of the pandemic. Last week, Bloomberg reported that UPS and FedEx are making an effort to buy or rent additional delivery vehicles. It found that coronavirus-induced downtime has halted production in factories that build trucks and vans, and that UPS has added peak surcharges to offset rental costs and other increases. Airlines also added additional staff: in October, UPS announced it would be hiring 100,000 people to cope with the Christmas shipping rush, while FedEx announced in September that it would hire 70,000 people.

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According to Adobe Analytics, Thanksgiving had online sales of $ 5.1 billion and Black Friday had sales of $ 9 billion. According to Sensormatic Solutions, in-store purchases on Black Friday fell 52 percent year over year. Cyber ​​Monday posted $ 10.8 billion in online sales, up 15 percent year over year.

One company that seems ready for the holidays: Amazon. Though the company struggled to keep up with orders at the start of the pandemic, it prepared for the holidays by hiring 100,000 seasonal workers in September – after hiring an additional 175,000 in April. In recent years, the company has also built its own shipping network to keep up with UPS and FedEx. The company reportedly now ships two-thirds of its packages through its own carriers.

Retailers also advise customers to complete their online purchases early to ensure packages arrive before Christmas. So, if you want to avoid going to a store during a pandemic and receiving your gifts before Christmas, click.

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