RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Tuesday is the deadline to buy, box and ship UPS, DHL, FedEx and USPS for ground delivery by Christmas.
The parking lot of the post office on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh was packed, as folks shipped holiday gifts to their loved ones.
Alfreda Carrington, of Raleigh, mailed out a gift Tuesday. She bought gifts in person and online and is hoping they get delivered on time.
"Even though it is the pandemic, they will be understanding but we still want to maintain our personal commitment, love and dedication to our loved ones so it's important for it to get there on time," Carrington said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven up online holiday shopping. An estimated 3 billion packages could be shipped this holiday season, more than last year's 2.2 billion, according to ShipMatrix Inc.
Supply chain expert and NC State assistant professor Tim Kraft said this year is very different.
"Normally, for example in the last few years, typically we've seen increases of online sales of maybe in the 14 to 16 percent range," Kraft said. "This year with the pandemic, we're seeing increases of 40 plus percent. And that's really putting a strain on the system and pushing the capacity of all these different shipper systems."
He said we've never really seen this level of strain on the shipping system and the logistic system.
"I mean these levels that we're seeing, the demand that these shippers are seeing is incredible," Kraft said.
That's why Kraft said it's important to be realistic.
"I think it'd be important for people to set expectations and realize some of the stuff that you ordered online probably is going to be delayed and not get there in time," Kraft said.
Kraft said the Nor'Easter will impact shipments in the U.S. but he doesn't think it will be major for us in the Southeast. He said it's hard to know if vaccination deliveries are delaying holiday shipments.
"A lot of the vaccination requires very special shipping and that is not going to be in your typical FedEx, UPS, ground, air shipping lanes and so those two aren't going to get that overlap," Kraft said.
Some retailers have later deadlines to try to get your gifts delivered by Christmas so it's important to do your research.