More than twice as many Americans find themselves "stressed and frustrated" this holiday season than those who say they are "relaxed" or "happy." In addition, 40% of shoppers said that their frustration level has increased versus last year while fewer than 10% say it has decreased, according to a ContentSquare's 2017 Holiday Mood report.
The study showed that consumers were most-concerned about package delays with more than 35% naming that as their biggest concern. In fact, concern over items not arriving in time beat out worrying about money by nearly 10% as the reason shoppers felt stress or frustration this holiday season.
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"People think that shopping online will decrease or eliminate stress from holiday shopping. It makes sense too -- you no longer have to sit in traffic to go to the store, fight for a parking spot or wait in long lines at the register; you shop from the comfort of your own home," wrote ContentSquare CEO Jonathan Cherki in an email to The Motley Fool. "But, what we found is that their old stressors are being replaced with new stressors, with deliveries ranking at the top."
There are good reasons to worry
The volume of items shipped during the holidays has steadily gone up as the internet has become more prevalent. United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), which admitted it fell behind when Black Friday and Cyber Week shipments were bigger than it forecast, now claims to be back on schedule, according to a press release. The company expects to deliver 40 million more packages this year than the 712 million it delivered during the 2016 holiday season.
UPS is not alone. Pilots who fly for DHL and Amazon's Prime Air said "they are already experiencing delays, which are likely to grow worse in coming weeks," The Washington Post reported. Both UPS and FedEx (NYSE: FDX) saw their on-time delivery rates dip slightly during the week after Thanksgiving last year, but both posted improved numbers over the same week in 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Of course, some shipping issues are not the fault of the companies transporting the packages. Wal-Mart, for example, saw its internal shipping capacity get overwhelmed during Thanksgiving week Reuters reported. That led to some orders taking extra time to reach customers, though the company said it's now back on track.
What can you do?
"People are stressed that their carrier is not going to deliver their package, it will be delivered damaged or that it will be stolen from their doorstep," wrote Cherki. "And with recent news of carriers reporting delays for deliveries and packages being stolen at alarming rates, it's not that surprising."
As a consumer, there are things you can do to lessen these concerns.To avoid packages being stolen have them delivered to an address where someone will be home. That could an office, a friend's house, or a building with a manned front desk.
Of course, security concerns aside, the key way to make sure you get everything you need for the holidays on time is to order as soon as possible. Now, since Christmas is getting closer, it's very important to check with each retailer as to what their cutoff order date is to guarantee delivery by Dec. 25.
It's also a good idea to remember that a guarantee is not the same as actually having the item in hand. Things can (and do) go wrong during the holiday season. That could include anything from a mistake on the part of the retailer, a delay from UPS, FedEx, DHL, or any other shipping service, or even bad weather.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends FedEx. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.