COLUMBIA — As a UPS driver who has worked in the Columbia area for more than 30 years, Keith "Howdy" Matheny has a good idea of when shipment volumes change.
Matheny, who works a mainly corporate route, said he has seen a jump this year in deliveries to many companies on his route as corporate gift giving has picked up since last year.
“It was so lean (last year), it was unbelievable,” he said Thursday morning before starting his route, noting that he put in 11 hours on the job the day before.
UPS and other delivery companies such as FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service all reported jumps in shipment volumes over this holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year.
Some of the increases include the following:
- FedEx handled a company record 16 million packages Monday and expects to handle an estimated 223 million shipments between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is an increase of about 11 percent from the same period last year, said company spokesman Steve Barber. Through its busiest week this year, Dec. 13 to 18, the company expects to move more than 63.1 million packages, up from 57.5 million during its busiest week last year.
- UPS expects to ship 430 million packages throughout the holiday season, which is up about 7.5 percent globally from last year, said company spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg. Local shipments are also trending ahead of last year, but Rosenberg said she did not have exact figures.
- The volume of mail for the U.S. Postal Service in Columbia was up more than 20 percent from last year so far this season, said Cheryl Hudson, customer relations coordinator in Columbia.
Spokespeople from FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service speculated that while an improving economy may have had a hand in the volume increase, the main factor was the growth of online holiday shopping. A climbing number of online retailers offering free shipping — and colder weather — have greatly increased the number of online purchases.
“It’s easier, people love it, it’s inexpensive and we bring it to their door,” Matheny said.
And that's a demand that Matheny said he's eager to satisfy, especially during the busy holiday season. He wears a brown UPS Santa hat, made for him by his wife, and said he's willing to put in as long of a day as it takes to get everything delivered.
Matheny said he especially loves delivering packages to mothers who are unsure if their children's presents will arrive before the holiday — the mothers are overjoyed to receive the packages, he said.
"It's neat being UPS," Matheny said.