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Image via FedEx.
Image via FedEx

A difficult end to the holiday season for FedEx could translate into big numbers for Amazon and other online retailers.

The shipping giant today cited an “unprecedented surge of last-minute e-commerce shipments” as one of the main reasons, along with weather, that it wasn’t able to get many deliveries to their destination in time for Christmas. FedEx said that package volume “far exceeded all previous records.”

Amazon uses FedEx for some shipments, although its Amazon Prime service relies primarily on UPS, which was able to keep up with holiday shipments this year, according to Bloomberg Business. Amazon overnight reported a record-breaking holiday season for Amazon Prime, saying that “over 200 million more items shipped for free with Prime this holiday season” than last holiday season.

The Seattle company won’t give a complete picture of its holiday sales until releasing its quarterly results in a few weeks, but overall e-commerce sales grew by an estimated 20 percent in the U.S., according to a MasterCard report today.

FedEx had been expecting a big holiday, predicting in October that it would handle “a record-breaking 317 million shipments between Black Friday and Christmas Eve.” The company’s difficulty keeping up with shipments may help to illustrate why Amazon is reportedly developing its own air cargo operations.

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