The word "guarantee" was thrown around too loosely this holiday season by retailers, writes The Dallas Mornings News' Maria Halkias.
While UPS (UPS) blames bad weather for falling short with some deliveries this year, the company only hired the same number of temporary workers as last year despite forecasts for booming online sales. FedEx (FDX) and the USPS also had their own glitches. The spottier-than-normal delivery record this year falls on the shoulders of the retail sector not shippers.
What to watch: Online retail tracking firm StellaService reports that sellers such as Zappos, Amazon (AMZN), Wal-Mart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY), and Victoria's Secret (LB) scored well in meeting aggressive deadlines, although the cost may be high. Many of the firms upgraded late-ordering customers to express shipping to avoid a customer service backlash. Next year, deadlines may be earlier and holiday margins higher.