Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2018

Q4 2018 Is Going to be Big! Get Prepared Now!

It’s that time of year. The big Q4! And while that means greater sales and profits for your business, it also means greater stress and pressure. 2018 is going to be big! According to Internet Retailer, online sales in 2018 will increase approximately 15.5% compared to 2017. And 2017 was a record year.

Just to offer some perspective of how big this really is, here are the approximate numbers from the big 3 carriers between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve 2017:

  • USPS – over 15 billion pieces of mail including 850 million packages.
  • UPS – over 750 million packages.
  • FedEx – over 400 million packages.
  • Just between these three carriers, that’s over 50 million packages delivered each day in the short span between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Wow! That’s a lot of packages being shipped! As an eCommerce retailer you already know that ensuring your customer’s packages arrive by Christmas is absolutely critical during Q4. But 2018 presents a unique challenge.

What to Expect for 2018

Christmas in 2018 falls on a Tuesday. That means the biggest last-minute shipping days leading up to it fall on the weekend. So it will be imperative that you set expectations with your customers so they know exactly when they have to finish their shopping with you to ensure their gifts arrive on time.

So here are the critical cut-off dates.


Ground – Friday, December 14, 2018
First Class Mail – Thursday, December 20, 2018
Priority Mail – Thursday, December 20, 2018
Priority Mail Express – Saturday, December 22, 2018


Ground – Friday, December 14, 2018
3 Day Select – Tuesday, December 18, 2018
2nd Day Air – Thursday, December 20, 2018
Next Day Air – Friday, December 21, 2018


SmartPost – Monday, December 10, 2018
Ground – Friday, December 14, 2018
Home Delivery – Monday, December 17, 2018
Express Saver – Wednesday, December 19, 2018
2-Day Services – Thursday, December 19, 2018
Overnight Services – Friday, December 21, 2018

Shipping Cutoffs Do Not Equal “Order By” Dates

These deadlines from the carriers are cut-off dates, not “order by” dates. That means your customer can’t order on the 22nd and hope to get it delivered by Christmas even with USPS Priority Mail Express. Be sure to communicate to your customers the final order dates, taking into account your time needed to process the order and to actually get the package into the mailstream.

So set expectations clearly with your customers, get your team prepared, and go crush it in what is promising to be the biggest eCommerce Q4 in history!