The ongoing supply chain disruptions affecting just about every industry are bringing new meaning to the term "holiday rush." Typically, that phrase is associated with the breakneck speed with which this time of year flies by; before you know it, Dec. 25th has arrived.

But with the port logjams still an issue and the unknown nature of when the bottlenecks will straighten out, "holiday rush" these days refers to buyers making their under-the-tree purchases well before the season ramps up so they aren't met with out-of-stock signs on store shelves. Even the White House concedes that limited supply may force some presents to arrive well after Santa Claus and his reindeer have returned to North Pole.

However, major parcel and package delivery service providers are confident they'll be able to get merchandise to the appropriate destinations in a timely manner, so long as there are items available to bring to people hoping for a pre-Christmas Day arrival. In short, they'll be ready, but whether the supply chain will be is an open question.

UPS hiring more than 100,000 seasonal employees
One provider that's prepared is UPS. Every year, UPS spends a great deal of time securing more seasonal hires, but in light of the supply chain dilemmas that are bound to create unpredictability, the shipper is looking to hire well over 100,000 seasonal employees, which is more than normal. These temporary employees will remain aboard with the company through January 2022.

"We're preparing for another safe, record peak holiday season," said Nando Cesarone, president of operations at UPS. "With COVID-19 continuing to impact Americans, our services are more important than ever. We plan to hire more than 100,000 people for seasonal jobs, many of whom will have an offer in hand within 30 minutes of applying. Our seasonal hires will help us provide the most reliable service in the industry, just like we did last year."

Parcel carriers like UPS say they're ready to get packages where they need to be for the holidays.Parcel carriers like UPS say they're ready to get packages where they need to be for the holidays.

But what may prevent UPS from increasing productivity is if the freight isn't there for employees to deliver. Speaking to Supply Chain Dive, Bill Seward, who serves as UPS' president of worldwide sales and solutions, said that the biggest unknown at this point is inventory. The company is doing everything it can to get products out to the people and "run a flexible network," but if inventory remains lean, then there's not much it can do.

FedEx made the most of National Hiring Day
FedEx is going to similar measures to ensure there are plenty of people who can deliver whatever is there for them to ship. On September 23, National Hiring Day, FedEx hosted several job fairs around the country so those newly recruited will be in place and trained to handle higher volumes.

But as with its rival carrier, FedEx's readiness will be for naught if the supply chain remains constrained. Yet in the spirit of the season, retailers remain optimistic hat everything will work out. Organizations like Lowes, Walmart and Samsung have all made commitments to expanding their service hours and remaining at the ports for longer periods so backlogs are cleared out. For these reasons, according to National Retail Federation Vice President Jon Gold, "many [retailers] feel they will have a better holiday season than last year."

Will the supply chain deliver a Christmas miracle? As it always does, time will tell.

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