Merry Christmas from Datacember: A look at the humongous number of packages shuttled about by UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and Santa Claus.

Santa on a motorcycle

Datacember knows only one way to celebrate Christmas Day. With numbers, of course. We’ll start with this one: If you’re still hunting around for that perfect gift for your loved one, your number is up. Today is the day. It absolutely, positively was supposed to be there. Well, FedEx says it will ship on Christmas Day. Something appropriately called SameDay. There is a number involved there, too, and you don’t want to see it. It’s what it’s going to cost you in dollars and cents for same-day Christmas delivery. But, back to the numbers:

  • Number of holiday packages delivered by UPS: 700 million.

  • Average daily package volume: 28 million.

  • Percentage increase: 14 percent.

  • Peak daily average (over busiest week): 30 million.

  • Temporary hires for the holiday rush: 95,000.

When you look at those numbers, it looks like UPS’ job is nearly as difficult as Santa Claus’, another well-known holiday delivery service. Some numbers (at least according to a 2011 article in the Atlantic about Santa’s worklife):

  • Number of deliveries: 526 million.

  • Number per hour: 22 million.

  • Number per minute: 365,000.

  • Number per second: 6,100.

  • Distance Santa travels on Christmas Eve: 316.9 million miles.

  • Speed: 1,800 miles per second.

  • Number of cookies consumed: We’re not dumb enough to bust Santa.

Datacember is energized just looking at those numbers. The U.S. Postal Service has been putting in some time this holiday season, too, and they’ve got numbers:

  • Number of package delivered: 750 million.

  • Increase over last year: 12 percent.

  • Number of cards and letters delivered: 16 billion.


And let’s not forget what’s causing all those packages to be flown, driven, biked and hiked to homes around the world — presents. Yes, many of those packages take flight because someone has purchased something and carefully packed it — or more likely because someone has ordered it up on an e-commerce site. There are numbers behind all that too — numbers that are tracked as carefully as the packages themselves:

  • Projected holiday spending: $655.8 billion

  • Increase year-over-year: 3.6 percent

  • Online sales

    through Dec. 20: $79.2 billion

  • Increase year-over-year: 10.7 percent

  • Smartphone’s percentage of conversions: 21 percent

  • Tablet’s share of conversions: 10 percent

  • Desktop’s share of sales: 69 percent

  • Amazon’s share

    of online revenue over Thanksgiving weekend: 31 percent.

Which is not to say as a nation (and a world) we are obsessed with gifts and getting them to the right place in time for Christmas. OK, we are. The number:

  • Number of Google results for the search query “Will FedEx deliver on Christmas: 2.3 million

In fact, here’s a look at interest in the search term “FedEx delivery,” according to Google Trends. Yeah, that high point was just before Christmas (Dec. 23). Hey, it’s the thought that counts. Right? fedexquerygoogle We mean, who cares when the gift actually arrives? You know, other than the bazillion who took to Google to find out what extreme measures they could take to get the gift there on time. OK, one more number, which is Datacember’s Christmas gift to you: Number of columns you simply must read before the day is out: 1. It’s the annual Christmas column by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune. Part of the Datacember team has his own tradition of reading it every year — and of recommending it to others. It’s one way to see very clearly that Christmas isn’t only about the numbers. There’s a whole lot of humanity involved, too. Merry Christmas. Photo by Mike Cassidy. Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.