DHL mirrored moves by rivals FedEx and UPS in upping its holiday workforce as well as expanding operations in preparation for an onslaught of online holiday orders that could tax shipping networks and postpone deliveries.
With the coronavirus pandemic keeping droves of Americans out of stores, online shopping is projected to surpass $189 billion over the next two months, up 33% from 2019. That’s equal to two years' worth of holiday e-commerce sales growth shoved into one season.
One way DHL is trying to handle this unprecedented demand is by adding over 10,000 permanent and temporary jobs to its workforce, the company said. The $65-billion logistics company is also adding six new facilities nationwide dedicated to filling e-commerce orders as well as deploying additional planes and delivery vehicles.
The move mimics efforts by FedEx and UPS, which have invested heavily into their workforces to prep for the holiday season.
In early September, FedEx confirmed to FOX Business that it was planning to hire as many as 70,000 seasonal workers as it braces for a tsunami of a shipping season. That's a 27% increase from the 55,000 hired last year.
Raj Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer of FedEx, projected that the upcoming season will be "unprecedented." Aside from hiring, he told FOX Business that the company would also accelerate "FedEx Ground’s seven-day-a-week residential delivery" to meet the "unprecedented" demand.
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Likewise, UPS also announced the company would be upping its workforce by more than 100,000 seasonal employees in gearing up for what it claimed will be a "record peak holiday season."
"We’re preparing for a record peak holiday season," UPS chief human resource officer Charlene Thomas said in an earlier statement.
The company projected the "annual increase in package volume" would last through January 2021.
Unfortunately, experts fear their efforts – which traditionally help alleviate the strain on supply chains – won't be enough this year.
"Upping the workforce this year will likely not be as helpful in years past due to the extreme surge in volume expected this year that will bottleneck their facilities, trucks and aircraft capacity," Brendan Heegan, founder of logistics and fulfillment warehouse Boxzooka.com told FOX Business.
Heegan noted that companies were also facing a challenge of recruiting due to the "extended supplemental unemployment benefits keeping folks out of the workforce" longer.
This year, between Black Friday and all of Cyber Week, Heegan predicts that companies such as FedEx and UPS will face more than two times the typical daily volumes.
"This volume will compound over those days and create a severe backlog," he said. "Both UPS and FedEx were heard to be capping the volume they would agree to handle for their larger customers, but as a whole across their total demand, this will not alleviate the problem ... especially when there’s essentially nowhere else to go to ship your packages. "
Satish Jindel, the president of ShipMatrix, which analyzes shipping package data, says the biggest hurdle will be between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Jindel predicts 7 million packages a day could face delays between the two holidays.
That’s because he’s expecting a total shipping capacity for the industry to be 79.1 million parcels a day during the 34-day period, with 86.3 million packages looking for space. Last year, total capacity was 65.3 million packages with demand at 67.9 million packages a day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.