Online sales pile up, but a logjam for shipping all that stuff is looming.

If there was ever a year to get your holiday shopping done early, this is it. The pandemic surge has experts predicting three billion packages will course through the nation’s shipping infrastructure during the holiday season — about 800 million more than were delivered last year, Michael Corkery and Sapna Maheshwari report in The New York Times.

That surge has the ability to harm smaller retailers already reeling from the effects of the prolonged lockdown while bolstering Amazon’s dominance. (The company has been expanding its own logistics business and is increasingly independent when it comes to its shipping capabilities.)

“Everyone is preparing for the worst and holding their breath,” said Ravi Shanker, a transportation analyst at Morgan Stanley. “It is far easier to lose at peak shipping than to win.”

More than 7 million more packages need to be shipped daily this holiday season than the system has the capacity to handle, according to ShipMatrix, which provides technology to the shipping industry.

To cope with the surge, the large shipping companies, including FedEx and UPS, have expanded weekend deliveries and hired more workers. They are also able to play hardball with retailers, enforcing limits on how many packages companies can send out a day and introducing steep holiday surcharges.

“Demand exceeds capacity, no matter what part of the country you are in,” said ShipMatrix’s president, Satish Jindel.

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