Santa's sleigh didn't make it in time for Christmas for some people this year because of shipping problems at UPS and FedEx.
The delays were blamed on poor weather earlier this week in parts of the country, as well as overloaded systems. The holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, more buying was done online, and Americans' tendency to wait until the last second to shop probably didn't help either.
Neither company said how many packages were delayed, but they noted that it was a small share of overall holiday shipments. While the bulk of consumers' holiday spending remains at physical stores, shopping online has become increasingly popular and is outstripping spending growth in stores at the mall.
The problems appear to have affected many parts of the country, including Alabama, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
"We apologize that our customers did not receive their packages on Christmas," said Natalie Godwin, a spokeswoman for United Parcel Service.
Godwin said snow and ice in the Midwest last week and an ice storm that hit Dallas 21/2 weeks ago were partially to blame. She also said the volume of packages shipped exceeded the capacity of UPS but did not provide further details.
UPS did not make pickups or deliveries Wednesday. Extra workers were being brought in Wednesday night to the company's hub in Louisville, Ky., to sort packages for delivery today and Friday, Godwin said.
Godwin said she didn't know whether customers would get refunds.
Scott Fiedler, a spokesman for FedEx, issued the following statement: "We're sorry that there could be delays, and we're contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup."
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments, Fiedler said. Those that were not delivered in time, he said, "would be very few."
Amazon is notifying some customers affected by the UPS delays that it will refund any shipping charges and give them a $20 credit toward a future purchase. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company processed orders and got them to its shippers "on time for holiday delivery."