Peak Season is Around the Corner – What to Expect in 2021

Skyrocketing demands for e-commerce have supply chains scrambling to adapt and transition to more sustainable operations.

As August approaches, shippers and carriers need to improve operational efficiencies at critical U.S. ports. Otherwise, they’ll be unable to take the added pressure of peak season

Each year it’s customary for the major shipping carriers to announce a rate increase. It usually takes effect just after the holiday peak season.

In 2020, several carriers responded to the overwhelming shipping demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by charging peak surcharges during the non-holiday season. The peak surcharges increased during the holiday season and as we’ve entered the 2021, UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS have published their increases and will continue to charge peak surcharges for certain types of services.

In 2021 rates are increasing by an average of 4.9%, which is pretty common. While this is the average increase, shippers will be affected based on the particular service they use.


UPS has assigned the biggest increases to the lowest weight packages, in most of its service offerings. Minimums are going up also on most services, particularly the slower services. ZIP code surcharges have also increased.

Effective Start Date: December 27, 2020

Bigger Impact Changes:

  • Additional handling – $3 per package
  • Large package – $31.45 per package
  • International Services – $0.11 per lb
  • Surepost – $0.30 per package

A full breakdown of UPS surcharges.


FedEx announced that they are extending some of their peak surcharges beyond the original expiration date of January 17. They forecast heavy demand for 2021 and want to offset rising network operating costs. The below surcharges will be effective January 18 until further notice.

Effective Start Date: January 4, 2021

Bigger Impact Changes:

  • Oversize Charge – $30 per package
  • Additional Handling Surcharge – $3.00 per package
  • SmartPost Peak Surcharge – $0.75 per package

A full breakdown of FedEx rate changes.


The proposed prices, approved by the Postal Service Governors, would raise shipping services product prices approximately 3.5 percent for Priority Mail service, and 1.2 percent for Priority Mail Express service. Shipping services price increases vary by product. Although mailing services price increases are based on the consumer price index, shipping services prices are primarily adjusted according to market conditions.

Effective Start Date: January 24, 2021

USPS International: June 30, 2021

Small Flat-Rate Box



Medium Flat-Rate Box



Large Flat-Rate Box



APO/FPO Large Flat-Rate Box



Regular Flat-Rate Envelope



Legal Flat-Rate Envelope



Padded Flat-Rate Envelope



An overweight/oversize surcharge of $100 will be added for packages that exceed the 70 lb. maximum weight limitation or the 130 inch length plus girth maximum dimensional size limit. This $100 surcharge must be paid by the shipper before the package will be delivered.A full guide to USPS rate increases can be found here.


Effective Start Date: January 1, 2021

DHL Express announced a 4.9% general average shipment price increase for U.S. account holders that will take effect on January 1, 2021. Some optional services and surcharges will increase as well.

Prices are adjusted on an annual basis by DHL Express, taking into consideration inflation and currency dynamics such as administrative costs related to regulatory and security measures. These measures are updated by national and international authorities on a regular basis in each of the more than 220 countries and territories that DHL Express serves. Depending on local conditions, price adjustments will vary from country to country, and will apply to all customers where contracts allow.

They have also announced the following surcharges.

Overweight Piece

Shipment pieces exceeding 70 kg

Per Piece

94.00 USD

Oversize Piece

Large pieces exceeding 120 cm

Per Piece

94.00 USD

Non-Stackable Pallet

When shipping non-stackable pallets

Per Piece

245.00 USD


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