Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays

Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays
Delivery firms are warning customers not to leave shopping over the Christmas period too late, or risk missing out on deliveries, with many companies already working at full capacity before the annual holiday surge. (AFP)
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Updated 12 November 2020

Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays

Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays
  • Companies already at online capacity due to the coronavirus disease pandemic

NEW YORK: Retailers and carriers are preparing for an online holiday shopping surge that could tax shipping networks and lead to delivery delays.
FedEx and UPS are ramping up their holiday hiring while expanding their weekend operations and asking retailers to use their shipping network when there is more slack. And stores are pushing shoppers to buy early and are expanding services like curbside pickup to minimize the need for delivery.
For the last few years, many retailers had been using their own physical stores, in addition to their distribution centers, to fulfill online orders. But now they are designating some of those stores to handle even higher volumes. Best Buy, for example, converted space in 250 of its 1,000 stores this fall to manage online orders.
The moves come as most of the carriers have been at full shipping capacity for months as shoppers shifted their buying online during the pandemic.
“We are warmed up for what we’re calling the ship-a-thon,” said Brie Carere, chief marketing and communications officer at FedEx. “Like everything else in 2020, this is going to be an unprecedented peak season. We’ve actually seen three years of growth in e-commerce pulled forward. So we are expecting a ton of volume.”
Carole B. Tome, CEO of UPS, told analysts last month she expects “a pretty peaky peak.”
Amazon, which has been growing its own delivery network so it doesn’t have to rely as much on UPS and the US Postal Service, is nonetheless warning shoppers not to wait until the last minute to buy gifts. While the world’s largest online retailer delivers more than half of its packages itself, it still relies on other carriers to get orders to shoppers.
“It’s going to be tight for everyone and we will all be stretched,” said Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer. “And it’s advantageous to the customer, and probably the companies, for people to order early this year.”
Satish Jindel, the president of ShipMatrix, which analyzes shipping package data, predicts 7 million packages a day could face delays from Thanksgiving to Christmas. That’s because he’s expecting a total shipping capacity for the industry to be 79.1 million parcels a day during the 34-day period, with 86.3 million packages looking for space. Last year, total capacity was 65.3 million packages with demand at 67.9 million packages a day.
Right now, Jindel is predicting delivery delays of one or two days for parcels.
US online holiday sales are expected to shatter previous records. Adobe Analytics, which measures sales at 80 of the top 100 US online retailers, predicts a total of $189 billion in online holiday sales, a 33% increase compared to last year. That’s equal to two years worth of holiday e-commerce sales growth shoved into one season.
But even with the online surge, overall holiday sales are expected to see only modest gains compared to recent years. Consulting firm Deloitte expects total sales, including online, to rise between 1% and 1.5% during the November through January period. That’s compared with a 4.1% increase last year for the November and December period, according to an analysis by the National Retail Federation. The trade group says it won’t be coming out with a forecast until this month given so much uncertainty.
Retailers can’t afford to upset shoppers with delayed deliveries or gifts that come after Christmas so they’re stepping up their game.
Kohl’s says it has tens of thousands of items on its website available for curbside pickup. The retailer doubled the number of drive-up parking spaces at its store locations to support increased demand. Likewise, Target has also doubled the number of parking spaces for its drive up services, to 8,000.
Meanwhile, carriers have added holiday surcharges to certain packages, a blow to retailers already struggling with higher costs during COVID. Jindel says the US Postal Service might be a good alternative for retailers now that it has gotten through the deluge of mail-in ballots during the elections. He estimates that the Postal Service’s temporary surcharges mostly range from 25 cents to 40 cents per package is considerably lower than $1 to $5 per package at major carriers.
“Our network is designed to handle temporary and seasonal increases in volume and we have the ability to deliver those additional holiday packages in a timely manner,” said Kimberly Frum, a spokeswoman at the US Postal Service.
For the holidays, FedEx is hiring 70,000 workers, while UPS is in the throes of hiring more than 100,000 temporary employees.
Lee Spratt is the Americas CEO for DHL eCommerce Solutions, a division that specializes in processing small packages for mid- to large-size shippers. He predicts online shopping to be up to 50% higher this holiday season compared to the year-ago period. The division has already been grappling with a 40% surge in online orders since the pandemic began.
It’s hiring 900 more permanent workers to its current labor force of 3,000. It also will hire 1,400 temporary workers, about the same as last year because the company is investing in more permanent workers instead.
In September and October, it also upgraded and some cases added new sorting machines in six key cities including Baltimore and Atlanta, in order to process more parcels.


Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
Updated 13 June 2021

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
  • Of the financing, 776 million euros came from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD
  • The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo

CAIRO: Egypt has signed 1.7 billion euros ($2.06 billion) worth of deals with France to finance projects in the transportation, infrastructure, electricity and wholesale sectors, the cabinet said on Sunday.
Of that financing, 776 million euros will come from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD, France's development agency, the cabinet said.
The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo.
In May, France announced a 4 billion euro deal to deliver 30 Dassault warplanes to Egypt beginning in 2024, strengthening ties with what it considers a vital partner in fighting Islamist militants.
Projects announced on Sunday by the cabinet include sanitation stations as well as a number of railway projects, including the provision of 55 new cars for the Cairo metro's oldest line and the construction of a railway line between Aswan in southern Egypt and Wadi Halfa in neighbouring Sudan.
AFD will provide 150 million euros in support of Egypt's universal health insurance programme, the cabinet said. ($1 = 0.8260 euros)


UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
Updated 13 June 2021

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
  • This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region

DUBAI: Dubai contractor Drake & Scull International (DSI) recorded a net profit of 115 million dirhams ($31.3 million) in the first three months of the year.
This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region, including in countries such as Tunisia, Palestine, Kuwait, and Iraq.
DSI also recorded revenues of 46 million dirhams and the order backlog remained stable at 376 million dirhams, it said in a statement.
Drake & Scull was hit hard by the regional construction downturn since 2014 and has been involved in lengthy financial restructuring and cost cutting.
It signed contracts worth 376 million dirhams earlier this year.


PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
Updated 13 June 2021

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
  • The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday

RIYADH: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, on Sunday announced several new senior appointments, just days after it also created two new deputy governor roles as part of its expansion drive.

The fund announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to the global capital finance division.

Al-Dossari joins PIF from his position as managing director and head of investment banking for Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, where he served since 2017. He also previously worked at HSBC Saudi Arabia and the initial public offering and merger and acquisitions department at the Saudi Capital Market Authority.

Al-Madhi previously held senior positions at Abdul Latif Jameel Investments, Volkswagen Group, McKinsey & Company and Saudi Aramco. He is chairman of the board and executive committee of the Saudi Fisheries Company and is also a member of the board of the National Agricultural Development Company, which are both part of PIF’s portfolio.

Shaker joins PIF from Saudi Al Baraka Banking Group and has almost 25 years’ experience in banking and financial services, having worked for Deloitte, HSBC Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabia Capital Market Authority.

The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday.

Turqi Al-Nowaiser, who heads the international investments division, and Yazeed Al-Humied, who leads the MENA investments division, will take on the deputy governor roles alongside their current responsibilities at PIF.

“The latest appointments bolster the PIF leadership team, as it implements its ambitious plans as one of the world’s largest and most impactful investors, with the stated aim of reaching AUM (assets under management) of more than $1.07 trillion, while investing $40 billion annually into the local economy through 2025,” the PIF said in a statement on Sunday.

The fund announced in December 2020 that its total employee count surpassed 1,000, up from about 700 at the start of 2020 and 40 five years ago. It said that about 84 percent of its employees were Saudi citizens and 26 percent were women.

The PIF has grown to $430 billion AUM since 2016 and has invested about $90 billion into the Kingdom’s economy over the last five years, creating more than 331,000 new direct and indirect jobs.


Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
Updated 13 June 2021

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
  • The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MWThe government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1

DUBAI: The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said it was adding 600 megawatts (MW) of clean energy capacity to the emirate’s power mix this year.

The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MW, it said in a statement.

Half of the additional capacity will be from the 5th phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park. The rest will come from a 262-meter CSP tower and a parabolic trough.

Upon delivery of the projects, clean capacity in Dubai’s energy mix will reach around 10 percent in July, and 12 percent by the end of the year.

“This supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 75 percent of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050,” DEWA’s CEO Saeed Mohammed Al-Tayer said.


G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
Updated 13 June 2021

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
  • Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders

CARBIS BAY, England: Group of Seven leaders were trying to resolve differences over a proposal to reallocate $100 billion from the International Monetary Fund’s warchest to help countries struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
An almost final version of the G7 communique seen by Reuters showed Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders.
The IMF’s members agreed in April to a $650 billion increase in IMF’s Special Drawing Rights and the G7 countries are considering whether to reallocate $100 billion of their rights to help poor countries fight the COVID pandemic.
SDRs are the IMF’s reserve asset, and are exchangeable for dollars, euros, sterling, yen and Chinese yuan or renminbi. Member states can loan or donate their SDR reserves to other countries for their use.
The head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that she had been heartened by the G7’s support for the plan and that she expected a clear indication later on how best to proceed, adding that the $100 billion target had been in discussion.