FedEx backs away from holiday surcharges, hoping to ship more online-shopping orders

FedEx will skip special charges on most packages shipped during the holiday season this year as it seeks to undercut rival UPS in a fight for a larger share of delivery of the millions of items people buy online.

FedEx Corp. said Thursday that it won’t charge extra for peak-season residential deliveries unless the package requires extra handling, such as for very large items.

On an average day, FedEx delivers more than 12 million packages to businesses and homes. That can jump to 25 million on peak days in December.

Residential shipments represent a much smaller share of the company’s revenue, but they are growing faster because of the rise of online shopping. Residential deliveries are relatively inefficient because homes are so spread out and a driver might take one package to a house instead of several to a business, which raises costs for FedEx.

The shipper, based in Memphis, Tenn., said that from Nov. 20 through Dec. 24 it will add surcharges of $3 for packages needing special handling, $25 for oversized items, and $300 for unauthorized shipments — those that are bigger or heavier than FedEx allows.

FedEx’s announcement comes two months after UPS announced new surcharges that will affect shipments in some weeks near Black Friday and Christmas.

United Parcel Service Inc. said that it would add 27 cents for residential ground deliveries from Nov. 19 through Dec. 2 and from Dec. 17 through Dec. 23. It will add a fee of 81 to 97 cents to overnight, second- or third-day residential deliveries Dec. 17 through Dec. 23. There are other charges for oversized packages.

In addition, UPS will charge a peak surcharge on some international air-shipping routes.

UPS, based in Atlanta, did not immediately comment on the maneuver by FedEx. In an interview last week, UPS Chief Executive David Abney said his company used the surcharges to encourage big shippers to adjust some promotions and shipments to help UPS smooth out its holiday-season volumes.

FedEx shares slipped 14 cents, or 0.1%, to $209.36 on Thursday. UPS rose 26 cents, or 0.2%, to $111.52.

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