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You may want to order holiday gifts now as shipping companies prepare for unprecedented season

FedEx is calling it a "shipathon," with online sales expected to skyrocket.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you are planning to do online holiday shopping, you might want to start now. The COVID-19 pandemic has already put a strain on the nation's delivery services. With online sales expected to boom this holiday season, those in the industry say this holiday shopping season is going to be a wild ride.

So what does that mean for you and your packages? The Local I-Team talked to several people who work in the shipping industry. They said get all your online holiday shopping done by the end of October, because shipping companies are going to be at max capacity.

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If you holiday shop online,  Matt Granite, "The Deal Guy," said it's time to start. Amazon Prime Days, which gives members online deals, are this Tuesday and Wednesday. Granite called it the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. 

"Shop early, which is like shop now right now. Hello guys, let's go," said Granite.

One reason to start early: shippers are expecting a record year.

"The system is overloaded. The demand exceeds the supply of being able to keep the supply chain going," said Martin Lipinski, a University of Memphis professor. Lipinski is with the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute.

Lipinski said not only is shipping going to be a challenge. A big issue is finding the labor to move the product. 

Not only is there the demand from COVID-19 and holiday shipping, but shippers could also be impacted by the potential movement of vaccines.

"People will want fast. Delivered as fast as the companies produce it, and it probably it will be temperature controlled - so that is a huge challenge," said Lipinski.

Fedex released this statement: "FedEx is known for its speed and reliability, but we are entering what is expected to be an unprecedented peak holiday shipping season. With the onset of COVID-19, we have been operating at peak levels since March and there is no sign of slowing down. We are working alongside our customers to prepare and deliver the best possible service, but we strongly  encourage everyone who plans  to do their holiday shopping online to shop and ship early. 

We’ve been preparing for what we’re calling “The Shipathon,” and we are warmed up and ready to deliver for our customers. We’ve taken a number of proactive steps, including the acceleration of FedEx Ground’s seven-day a week residential delivery, investments in automated facilities, and growth in our FedEx Freight Direct service and our retail convenience network. These strategic investments will help better support what is expected to be an unprecedented holiday shipping season.  We’re also working proactively with our customers regarding capacity levels. These adjustments will increase our network flexibility and optimize capacity to help ensure we deliver the best possible service for our customers during this holiday season. We're also adding more than 70,000 positions in key markets across the United States."