Snow plow cleaning road - how will it impact shipping?

Winter Storm, Federal Holiday, and Omicron Could Create Shipping Chaos Next Week for Online Merchants

Online merchants and marketplace sellers should brace for a challenging beginning next week with shipping disruptions highly likely until the end of the week due to weather, Covid, and a national holiday.

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Winter Storm Izzy is moving this weekend from the midwest to the east coast spreading a mix of heavy snow and ice through popular trucking routes that serve much of the country east of the Mississippi.

The storm is expected to create disruptions on highways and major roads that will be felt from North Dakota to Maine and all the way down to northern Georgia.

48 Hour Forecast National Weather Service – Issued January 15

National Weather Service Forecast Jan 15 to Jan 17 2022
Source: National Weather Service

FedEx has already warned of delays due to staff shortages due to Covid-19 infections among its workforce and previous winter storms that impacted parts of the west coast. This winter storm is only going to make it worse for the carrier next week.

UPS may not be far behind. Speaking to CNBC on Friday, UPS CEO Carol Tomé said the carrier is also managing through staffing challenges with workers having to call out sick due to the Covid-19 Omnicron variant.

However, she also said UPS has retained some of its seasonal staff from the holiday peak shipping season to manage the situation.

UPS currently does not show any disruptions due to weather on its service alerts page. But Louisville, KY, home of UPS Worldport – the primary air hub for the carrier – is expected to receive significant weather overnight from Saturday to Sunday that could impact shipments.

Shippers should check with the UPS Service Alerts page on Monday for any updates by the carrier.

Online merchants using USPS face two issues over this weekend. On Monday, January 17, the Postal Service will be closed as it will be a federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

When a federal holiday falls on Monday, USPS always has to manage a larger volume of mail on Tuesdays, which can lead to later delivery and pickup times.

While the winter weather should be past the US east coast on Tuesday, the weather conditions over the weekend and Monday will very likely impact many USPS trucking routes.

As part of its new service standards, USPS is relying more on transporting mail by trucks instead of commercial aircraft and that could become a factor when weather slows down major trucking routes due to weather.

The Postal Service has not indicated any significant worker issues due to the Covid-19 Omicron variant, but like about every other large organization, it likely also faces some worker shortages that impact operations.

Be Prepared for Shipping Delays

It looks like next week could be one of the more challenging weeks for online merchants and marketplace sellers this year.

Between a federal holiday and winter weather impacting a large portion of the US, there will be challenges transporting packages in a timely manner.

Some customers, especially those living in southern “sunny” states, do not realize how transportation routes in the midwest or along the east coast can affect their deliveries.

Online merchants and marketplace sellers should be mindful that this weather system will be creating issues and some customers will face delays in receiving orders.

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