December 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM CST - Updated July 21 at 9:25 AM
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, AP
NEW YORK (AP) — Santa's sleigh didn't make it in time for Christmas for some this year due to shipping problems at UPS and FedEx.
The delays were blamed on poor weather earlier this week in parts of the country as well as overloaded systems. The holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, more buying was done online and Americans' tendency to wait until the last possible second to shop probably didn't help either.
Neither company said how many packages were delayed but noted it was a small share of overall holiday shipments.
While the bulk of consumer holiday spending remains at physical stores, shopping online is increasingly popular. Online spending in the U.S. from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 rose 9 percent from the same period last year to $37.8 billion, according to research firm comScore. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail group, has predicted that overall sales, both in stores and online, will rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion this holiday shopping season.
"UPS is experiencing heavy holiday volume and making every effort to get packages to their destination; however, the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed," United Parcel Service Inc. said in a service advisory online Wednesday.
UPS is not making pickups or deliveries Wednesday and plans to resume normally scheduled service Thursday.
Some FedEx customers are able to pick up packages Christmas Day at their local FedEx Express centers.
"We're sorry that there could be delays and we're contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup," said Scott Fiedler, a spokesman for FedEx Corp.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments, according to Fiedler. Those that were not delivered in time, he said, "would be very few."