Shippers cap deliveries amid late shopping surge

FedEx Corp., rushing to deliver packages ahead of Christmas, said it limited some package volumes from retailers to cope with surges in shipments related to congestion at California ports.

“Slowdowns at the West Coast ports and other changing customer dynamics” have created shifts in peak-season shipping demand, Gretchen Mathis, a spokeswoman, said Wednesday. “These changes did result in some caps on volume to ensure that we’re able to provide outstanding service.”

FedEx, the operator of the biggest cargo airline, didn’t identify any of the shippers or the number of packages. FedEx is working to avoid a rerun of the last- minute crush of e-commerce orders like the one that delayed some 2013 Christmas deliveries for United Parcel Service Inc.

The flow of goods to retailers has been gummed up by slow movements of shipping containers amid union contract talks at the ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle 40 percent of U.S. imports. A six-year labor accord for 20,000 workers on the West Coast expired July 1.

A UPS spokesman, Andy McGowan, declined to comment on a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday that the company was, like FedEx, putting limits on some shippers ahead of the Christmas holiday.

“UPS’s global air and ground operations are running smoothly and we continue to deliver strong volume,” McGowan said by e-mail. “Our drivers are delivering throughout the day today and we will make every attempt to deliver all packages in time for Christmas.”

FedEx and UPS have said they are working to guard against a surprise rush of packages that would overwhelm networks already busy with holiday deliveries. Both also have said shipping is going smoothly this year after adding temporary workers and expanding processing capacity.

FedEx said Tuesday it hit peak deliveries on Dec. 15 and expected to move 290 million packages from Thanksgiving to Christmas, up 8.8 percent from last year.