Foot traffic fell 39% annually at US retail stores the Saturday before Christmas.

But that doesn’t mean people are buying fewer gifts…it means they’re buying them online, putting further strain on an already strained delivery system like the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Saturday before Christmas (Super Saturday) is usually one of the busiest of the holiday season, as last-minute shoppers rush to stores, but with COVID cases mounting and several states tightening restrictions, many people have chosen to stay home and shop online as they did on Black Friday, according to shopper data, meaning that foot traffic to physical stores fell 39.1% on Super Saturday and was down nearly 40% for the entire weekend, compared with the same days last year, according to Sensormatic Solutions, which has cameras and software used to track visits to thousands of malls and shopping centers. Because of this, Sensormatic lowered its holiday foot-traffic forecast to a decline of 34% to 36% for the six weeks ending Jan. 2, from a previous estimate of down 22% to 25%. It still expects bricks-and-mortar stores to be busy in the final days before Christmas.

“Super Saturday weekend was perceived to be the beginning of a return to brick-and-mortar due to concerns over online shipping cutoffs,” said Brian Field, senior director of Sensormatic’s global retail consulting practice. “However, many consumers elected to stay home.”

“This year can’t end fast enough,” Jennifer Lemke, the clerk craft director at APWU Local 170 in Ohio, told the Washington Post.

On top of the e-commerce surge, Morning Brew adds that the USPS is facing a double whammy of other challenges:

  • FedEx and UPS limited shipments from some retailers earlier this month. USPS has been picking up the slack and handling an average of 6 million extra packages per day.
  • At the same time, its workforce has shrunk due to Covid. Almost 19,000 of USPS’s 644,000 employees have called in sick or are isolating because of the coronavirus.