Is FedEx Hinting at the Busiest Holiday Season Ever?

The familiar joys and stresses of holiday shopping are rapidly approaching once again, and when consumers begin buying all those gifts for the loved ones on their lists, it’s expected more will opt to skip the stores and order their presents online than ever before.

FedEx (NYSE:FDX), which will ship so many of those online purchases, released a report Monday stating that the world’s second-largest shipping company expects to have its busiest holiday season on record.  FedEx estimates it will deliver around 280 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 13 percent more than last year.

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The package delivery service believes the trend of increasing consumer preference for shopping online will continue in 2012, as shoppers find the internet can save them hassles, headaches, time, and money. Despite the bleak economic conditions that have forced FedEx to reign in expectations for 2013 business and make drastic cuts to units like its Express delivery service, online holiday sales are expected to grow 16.8 percent, according to research firm eMarketer. In response, FedEx will hire 20,000 new seasonal employees to help manage the influx of shipments.

More online orders mean more business for FedEx, which has circled December 10 as the anticipated busiest day of the year, when some 19 million packages will be moving through its system.  Delivery services like FedEx and larger rival UPS (NYSE:UPS) enjoy double benefits from booming Internet shopping, as they not only deliver the initial orders, but also handle the shipment of returned items from disappointed gift-getters.

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