How Many Shipping Days Till Christmas?

THE THREATENED JOB ACTION at Federal Express is good news for United Parcel Service and other shippers, right? Nope. With the holiday season at hand, Federal Express rivals say they will be at capacity--and can't help those the No.1 package carrier turns away. The crunch comes on Nov. 25, when a federally mandated cooling-off period ends and FedEx's pilots are free to stage a work slowdown or even strike.

Even without a FedEx shutdown, volume at No.2 UPS is expected to peak at 3.7 million packages on Dec. 19, nearly triple the normal night's traffic. Despite renting 40 extra cargo jets, UPS still would face a hopeless airlift bottleneck from FedEx packages. The story is similar at No.3 Airborne Express.

What about using the U.S. Postal Service? Its overnight service's problems gave rise to the express industry in the first place. Advice: Send packages early.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.