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UPS, FedEx, USPS shipping deadlines: Will your Christmas gifts arrive on time or face delays amid COVID vaccine?

Time is running out to ship holiday gifts in time for Christmas.

Dec. 15 was the deadline for ground shipping at the nation’s three largest carriers, FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service, almost identical to 2019 deadlines.

But consumers should brace themselves for late packages and possible disappointment even if they meet the cutoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Target and the U.S. Postal Service have already warned consumers of potential delays and other retailers moved up their deadlines. Walmart announced its deadlines for online orders Tuesday. Amazon announced its deadlines Wednesday.

Between delays for shipping the new COVID vaccine and potential storms, experts suggest acting fast.

“There will be packages that don’t make it and there can be more if we end up with a bad snowstorm on the final days before Christmas,” Satish Jindel, the president and founder of ShipMatrix, told USA TODAY. “But no one can predict that far out.”

Adobe Analytics recommended buying gifts before Dec. 11, saying it predicts shipping costs will begin to rise after that date, “erasing some of the value consumers are getting from holiday deals.”

FedEx and UPS have expanded weekend deliveries and hired more workers. They’ve also enforced limits on how many packages companies can send out a day and introduced steep holiday surcharges.

Christmas shipping deadlines 2020

The best bet is to ship as soon as possible this holiday season, experts say. Here are key deadlines to keep in mind if you want your packages to arrive by Christmas.

UPS deadlines for Christmas delivery

  • Ground: Dec. 15
  • 3-Day Select: Dec. 21
  • 2nd Day Air: Dec. 22
  • Next Day Air: Dec. 23

U.S. Postal Service deadlines

Here are the deadlines for packages to arrive before Christmas in the 48 contiguous states:

  • Retail Ground: Dec. 15
  • First-Class Mail: Dec. 18
  • Priority Mail: Dec. 19
  • Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23

FedEx shipping deadlines

The following deadlines are within the U.S.:

  • FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground: Dec. 15
  • FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight: Dec. 21
  • FedEx 2Day: Dec. 22
  • FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours, FedEx Overnight: Dec. 23
  • FedEx SameDay: Dec. 25