Santa's sleigh didn't make it in time for Christmas for some this year due to shipping problems at UPS and FedEx, and the shipping giants are scrambling to clear the backlog of holiday deliveries.
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.
“UPS apologizes to both shipping and receiving customers who may have delays," the company said Thursday. "We had additional sorting operations at Worldport, the UPS international air hub in Louisville, KY, on Christmas and are making deliveries and pickups today. Customers should continue to access UPS.com for the most updated information.”
Several customers picked up their late packages at various locations.
"My son was crushed," said UPS customer Tacquilla Johnson. "These were things he was expecting for Christmas."
While the bulk of consumers' holiday spending remains at physical stores, shopping online is increasingly popular and outstripping spending growth in stores at the mall.
"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.
Some FedEx customers were 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."
The problems appear to have impacted many parts of the country. The Associated Press spoke to people in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and other states who didn't receive presents in time for Christmas.
Many were left with little or no time to make alternative plans, but some were understanding.
"I would rather this package be a little than for someone to lose their life to get it to a customer," said UPS customer Raven Long. "It's not a big issue for me."