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Testing holiday shipping speeds; which mail service is the fastest?

10TV put the shipping speeds of USPS, FedEx and UPS to the test this holiday season by sending small packages to our sister station in California.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Christmas shipping deadlines are approaching quickly. 

The deadline for packages to arrive by Christmas through USPS is Dec. 17 for retail ground shipping. But are other services faster?

10TV put the shipping speeds of USPS, FedEx and UPS to the test by shipping boxes to our sister station in Sacramento, California.

Each service offers a variety of shipping options based on how fast you want your items to arrive and how much you’re shipping out.

To keep things simple, we selected the cheapest and smallest box option for each service. 

All items were shipped on Dec. 7, each costing a different amount and being quoted a different arrival date.

All of our boxes arrived earlier than expected.

Our FedEx shipment was set to arrive on Dec.12 but arrived three days earlier, on Dec. 9.

USPS also delivered our package early, it was set to arrive on Dec. 10, but arrived the day before on Dec. 9.

Our UPS package arrived two days early on Dec. 12, when it was originally estimated to arrive on the 14th.

Despite all of our packages arriving early, that is not a guarantee with any shipping service, especially as we get closer to Christmas. Expedited options are available with all of these services, which is the best way to guarantee your package arrives when you want it to.

Below are this year's Christmas shipping deadlines

USPS 2022 holiday shipping deadlines   

  • Retail Ground: Saturday, Dec. 17
  • First-Class Mail: Saturday, Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail: Monday, Dec. 19
  • Priority Mail Express: Friday, Dec. 23

FedEx 2022 holiday shipping deadlines

  • FedEx Ground Economy: Thursday, Dec. 8 
  • FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground: Wednesday, Dec. 14
  • FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight: Tuesday, Dec. 20
  • FedEx 2Day: Wednesday, Dec. 21
  • FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours: Thursday, Dec. 22
  • FedEx SameDay: Friday, Dec. 23

UPS 2022 holiday shipping deadlines

  • UPS Ground: Check the UPS website
  • UPS 3 Day Select: Tuesday, Dec. 20
  • UPS 2nd Day Air: Wednesday, Dec. 21
  • UPS Next Day Air: Thursday, Dec. 22

“It all depends on the packaging of your package, and the way it’s packaged! Most importantly we need a sturdy box, it starts with that! Then inside the box we need everything cushioned so there’s no shifting going on during transportation” said Michelle Shimmel with USPS customer relations.

Shimmel said many people who come to the post office don’t have a proper zip code listed on their package which can create problems. If you don’t know the zip code, she said it’s best to just leave it blank.

Additionally, make sure you’re using the proper tape.

“Tape is important, not all tapes are created equal. So make sure it’s a packaging tape, not masking tape, scotch tape, painters tape. And duct tape is weather conducive so if it gets too cold or too warm it can lose its adhesiveness,” said Shimmel.


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