November 7, 2011, 2:32 PM

UPS projects a 6% increase in package volume the week before Christmas

The shipping provider says it will deliver the most packages Dec. 22.

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UPS says it expects to deliver more than 120 million packages the week before Christmas, up 6% from the 113 million it delivered during the same week a year ago. It expects daily package volume will approach or exceed 25 million five times during the 10 days leading up to Christmas. Last year, UPS’ daily package volume exceeded 25 million only once ahead of the holiday.

The shipping carrier says the increase in volume so close to the holiday signals that consumers are waiting until the last minute to do their online gift shopping. UPS says it expects worldwide delivery volume to reach 26 million on Dec. 22, its peak delivery day.

Last month, FedEx Corp. said it expects to handle 17 million packages Dec. 12, its peak day. It said it expects to deliver more than 260 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

73% of the Top 100 retailers ranked in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide last week offered some form of free shipping, up from 65 of the Top 100 retailers that offered free shipping during the same week a year ago. 48% of consumers say they’ll shop online for holiday gifts this year, and 69% of those consumers say they are more likely to buy from an e-retailer if it offers free shipping, according to a survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

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