Why Do Wine Clubs Have Such Early Holiday Shipping Deadlines?

When it comes to holiday shipping, you’ll often see online wine clubs with notes on their websites that say something to the effect of, “order by December 10th, to receive your wine for Christmas!”. Many consumers, think that’s awfully early. Here’s why:

Ok, so first of all, when you’re planning a shipping schedule you have to look at the absolute worst case scenario and then plan for something even worse than that.

This year, Christmas Day fell on a Friday. For ground shipping, believe it or not, that’s actually almost the best case scenario, for a wine club the best case scenario is actually Saturday which maximizes the shipping days before the holiday. It’s a great scenario for a few reasons:

  • Even during the holiday peak, ground shipments via either Fedex or UPS are not delivered on a weekend.
  • Even during the holiday peak, ground shipments via either Fedex or UPS are neither picked up on the weekend, nor do they move on the weekend

To explain a little further on the moving part, if I shipped a wine club package on a Friday, it would go wherever it went on Friday evening and then sit in a warehouse all weekend. Especially this time of year, this was a constant source of concern because not every warehouse was the same and temperature, both hot and cold does awful things to both wine, but also the wine bottle. I actually had more shipments returned over the years during winter months when the wine froze, expanded and popped the cork than I had leak out of the cork during the summer when things were hot.

Ok, so back to shipping specifics for wine clubs during the holiday rush. If Christmas is on a Friday, you need gifts delivered by the 24th (obviously). Worst case scenario for ground shipping is a flat week. So, the ground shipping deadline for us would often be the 17th of December.

This year, we all heard the news stories, but it seemed like there was likely to be a few days of extra time in part because so many more things were being purchased online even very early in the holiday season. To that effect, USPS actually stopped picking up from some major retailers like Gap early on for a couple of days, to be able to work through what was already in the system.

Ok, so that moves our target date back a few days to say, December 15th. Now, most wine clubs are going to want a couple of days especially during their busiest time to pack your shipment, so let’s move it back even a couple of days before that. So call it December 13th. But therein lies the problem, that’s a weekend and wine can’t be picked up, nor moved on a weekend. So most wine clubs are going to move their shipment deadline even earlier, with Friday December 11th being a popular day, in part because they would know exactly how much wine, packing supplies etc that they would need before truly picking and packing everyone’s wine club gift shipments the following week.

Whew. Ok, so why do wine clubs have such early deadlines for holiday shipping? It’s complicated. But this isn’t Amazon Prime 2 Day shipping because shipping wine is expensive which requires it ship via ground shipping, which takes a long time.