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Ship early as congestion continues

WASHINGTON DC: A study by Shop.org, a division of the U.S. National Retail Federation (NRF), says 78.8 percent of U.S. retailers have set their delivery deadlines at least a week before Christmas to ensure delivery.

The report coincides with news of increasing congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in what has been described as "the worst shipping crisis in a decade" that has led to an apparent increase in air cargo to ensure deliveries. Read more

LA ports"It's important to remember that the 2013 holiday season was impacted by a multitude of factors that affected the supply chain in the days leading up to Christmas, including bad weather and a shortened holiday calendar. That said, retailers and their delivery partners this year are proactively planning to make sure they meet customer expectations for delivery and customer service," said Shop.org executive director and NRF senior vice president Vicki Cantrell.

Of the 92.3 percent of retailers polled who plan to offer free standard shipping this holiday season, 69.1 percent say their guarantee for Christmas delivery will expire on or before December 19. Over 74.0 percent of retailers polled last year had a deadline on the equivalent day.

Shop.org says retailers consider shipping and fulfillment features "of utmost importance" with 41.3 percent investing in live chat and more than 34.0 percent in technologies that allow shoppers to check in-store availability.

For customers waiting until the last minute, 20.6 percent of companies surveyed say they plan to offer free or upgraded expedited shipping until December 23rd while 14.7 percent will end shipping promotions on December 21st.

Over 56.0 percent of retailers offering two-day shipping plan say their deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery will expire on or before December 21st while the balance will end a guarantee of two-day delivery the following day.

Shop.org, is a community made up of some of the world's largest retail, technology, research, and consulting companies.

The Los Angeles/Long Beach port congestion is reportedly due to the lack of enough chassis to move containers around the ports. CEO Jon Slangerup, a former head of FedEx Canada, expressed surprise that operators hadn't planned for peak unloading and has promised a solution in the next 30 days.

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