UPS drivers told not to pick up shipments from major retailers amid pandemic-fueled holiday surge

UPS has reportedly told drivers across the country to stop picking up packages from six retailers, including Gap, Nike and Macy’s, as the shipping company attempts to keep up with a record-breaking online shopping season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In an internal message obtained by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by various UPS workers in different regions, the delivery company announced the temporary shipping restrictions on the retailers, which also included L.L. Bean, Hot Topic and Newegg.

“No exceptions,” the message reportedly said.

The move comes amid rising demand for delivery companies’ services, with lockdown orders and other coronavirus restrictions limiting the number of people shopping in person.

The National Retail Federation estimated that online shopping jumped 44 percent over a five-day period that included Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to the Journal.

The Journal reported that the temporary limits could be a sign of UPS regulating the number of packages within its network in order to maintain high performance amid the holiday season.

A UPS spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that if demand exceeds planned space, the company “will work with our larger customers to ensure the volume gets picked up and delivered as more capacity becomes available in our network.”

The spokesperson did not say if there were any retailer-specific directives.

“We are pleased with the way the UPS network is performing as we exit the Thanksgiving holiday and move into the month of December, delivering record volume,” the emailed statement added. “UPS continues to work closely with our largest customers to steer volume to capacity and ensure the UPS network is reliable for all customers.”

“This collaboration includes specific capacity allocations last weekend and throughout the holiday season,” the spokesperson continued. “We’ve worked with our large retail customers to ensure they are aware of how much capacity is available to them.”

The representative added that “UPS is prepared this holiday season” and is “well positioned to support our customers’ needs.”

According to ShipMatrix Inc., a software provider that analyzes shipping data, the combination of holiday shipments and continued orders of household essentials amid the pandemic is expected to lead to a surplus of about 7 million daily packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

UPS added in its statement to The Hill that the company “is committed to maintaining the reliability of its network for other customers, including small- and medium-sized businesses, which have been hit hardest during the pandemic and are also seeing an increase in holiday volume.”

“The network capacity for our SMB [small- and medium-sized business] customers must also remain strong to help the recovery of this vital part of the economy,” the statement said.

The latest industry estimates showed Cyber Monday to be the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, with up to $11.4 billion in sales. Amazon announced Tuesday that independent businesses on its platform received more than $4.8 billion in sales worldwide from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

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