Attention: 2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for Your Small Business

2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

The 2018 holiday shopping season is upon us, and for businesses, it means keeping a close eye on the holiday shipping deadlines. Not knowing the shipping deadlines for the USPS, UPS, and FedEx could be a costly mistake.

Whether your customers start shopping during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or wait right before Christmas, you have to know the holiday shipping deadlines.

Knowing the deadline for each carrier will ensure the items your customer’s buy from you will get to them as promised. Miss those deadlines and that special gift will not get delivered on time, which might just mean losing the customer forever.

Small businesses can avoid or greatly limit late deliveries by putting in place a comprehensive fulfillment strategy. With this strategy in place, your company will have a high success rate for shipping online orders to customers not only during the holiday season but throughout the year.

However, the challenges of meeting holiday shipping deadlines during this time of year are well documented. Robert Gilbreath, CMO & VP of Partnerships at ShipStation, a web-based shipping solution provider points out the challenges.

In a press release announcing the company’s shipping infographic, Gilbreath said, “We understand how hectic operations can be around the holidays, so every year we work to provide ship-by dates as early as possible. The sooner e-commerce merchants can begin planning their own shipping schedule, the sooner they can prepare for the influx of holiday orders.”

ECommerce and the Increased Number of Packages

One of the biggest drivers for the increased number of packages is e-commerce. Both online and brick and mortar retailers are using their digital e-commerce platforms to ship items to customers.

This has increased the number of packages being shipped year-round, but especially during the holiday shopping season.

The USPS said it expected to deliver more than 850 million packages during the holiday season in 2017. Total in the 750 million from the UPS and another 400 million from FedEx, and it quickly adds up to tens of millions of packages every day.

Getting Ready for Holiday Season Shipping

One thing to remember about the holiday shopping season is, it is never too early to start getting ready for the rush.

The first thing you need to find out is all of the holiday shipping deadlines from the major carriers (you can see the graphs below for all three). You should also look into local carriers who might be working throughout the holidays for specialized deliveries and services.

Make this information available to all of your employees and they understand how important they are when packages are being shipped for a timely delivery.

In most cases, there will be a surcharge for working on certain days. If you are going to pass the cost to your customer let them know ahead of time to avoid any misunderstanding.

Once you have become familiar with the holiday shipping deadlines and fees for all the carriers, you can start planning how to handle the increased business and not get overwhelmed.

The key is to keep your promises and deliver. This is much better than overpromising and underdelivering because your customers will remember their experience (good or bad) long after the holiday season has come and gone.

2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines


USPS Services Cutoff Date
Retail 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


UPS Service Cutoff Date
Ground Friday, December 14, 2018
3 Day Select Tuesday, December 18, 2018
2nd Day Air Services Thursday, December 20, 2018
Next Day Air Services Saturday, December 22, 2018


FedEx Service Cutoff Date
SmartPost Services Monday, December 10, 2018
Ground Friday, December 14, 2018
Home Delivery Monday, December 17, 2018
Express Saver Wednesday, December 19, 2018
2Day Services Thursday, December 20, 2018
Overnight Services Friday, December 21, 2018

ShipStation has created a handy infographic which you can print to keep an eye on those all-important dates.

2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Here are additional holiday dates to keep in mind for FedEx and UPS.


2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Images: ShipStation, FedEx, UPS

Photo via Shutterstock 2 Comments ▼

Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

2 Reactions
  1. Shipping is essential for small businesses especially during the holidays when there is a huge influx of sales. I am excited about this even by just thinking about it.

  2. Holiday shipping is like tiptoeing around landmines. Only a handful of retailers escape unscathed. With volume going up and so the delivery errors, how to sail through? Useful tips from