- On-time deliveries in the Midwest plummeted in the days leading up to Christmas as severe winter weather disrupted carrier operations, according to project44 data.
- In the Midwest, on-time delivery performance was about 74% on Dec. 22 before falling to 49% on Dec. 23 and 37% on Dec. 24, per project44. Other regions saw less pronounced drops in their on-time percentages.
- Project44's supply chain visibility platform tracks more than 1 billion shipments annually. Its on-time metric is based on the original delivery date, or the date the customer was initially told their order would be delivered by, and anything arriving later is considered late, the company said in an email.
On-time delivery rate in Midwest cratered prior to Christmas
A massive winter storm in the days before Christmas soured what was overall a smooth peak season for last mile deliveries, compared to the capacity constraints and upstream supply chain challenges of 2021.
Before the severe weather upended travel across large swaths of the U.S., a project44 report on peak season performance noted that transit times had been consistently lower than in 2021. Additionally, it reported a 40% drop in fulfillment times during the busy week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But challenging winter conditions quickly presented issues for parcel carriers. In a Dec. 23 service alert, FedEx Express said it "experienced substantial disruptions" at its crucial Memphis, Tennessee, and Indianapolis hubs the night before. It warned customers that delays are possible for deliveries across the U.S. with a delivery commitment of Dec. 23 and Dec. 24. A FedEx spokesperson said in a statement that the company has since returned to normal operations.
UPS also had a service alert on its website that same day that said weather impacted its UPS Air and Ground network, including at hubs in Louisville, Kentucky and Rockford, Illinois. Some delivery and pickup services would be affected as a result, it added.
“The safety of our drivers is always our top priority, so we continued deliveries wherever it was safe to do so,” a UPS spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “In areas where the storm forced a suspension of service, we resumed delivering as soon as conditions permitted.”
ShipMatrix said in a news release in the midst of the disruptions that more than 10 million deliveries scheduled for Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 weren't expected to arrive on time. It added that it would be until the middle of the following week for the delivery backlog to clear.
"With local drivers delivering 250 to 300 packages on a typical day at this time of holiday shipping, the severe weather-related road conditions will limit delivery (while ensuring driver safety) to about 150 packages per day in the affected areas contributing to lower on-time performance," the Dec. 24 release said.
Delivery performance rebounded in the days after Christmas, according to project44 data. The on-time percentage was nearly 72% for the Midwest on Dec. 31, with other regions posting rates above 72% that day.