The second Monday in December - called Green Monday for all money that changes hands today - has tended to be the day more people get the jitters and head to the post office or private shipper. It's also when Cyber Monday purchases finally work their way through the shipping pipeline.
Fed Ex expects more than 19 million packages to move through its system today - more than double the company's typical daily volume and a 10% jump from last year.
Still, today is not the last day for free shipping. That's later than ever, given the increased competition among online retailers. And it's not even the last day to get packages to their destinations before Christmas using standard shipping - that deadline tends to be Dec. 17, which is called Free Shipping Day. About 1,000 retailers plan to offer free shipping deals that day.
Green Monday does, however, kick off one of the busiest weeks of the year for online retailers. U.S. shoppers spent more than $1.1 billion on Green Monday in 2011, according to ComScore.
FedEx expects a record-breaking holiday shipping season due to the increased popularity of online shopping and all the shipping-related promotions and "holidays." About 280 million packages are expected to move through the FedEx system between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. That's up 13% from 2011.
According to eMarketer, online holiday sales are forecast to climb 17% from last year. Almost $1 of every $10 of consumer discretionary spending is now online, ComScore says.
Fed Ex says most of the packages entering its system Dec. 10 will come through its ground and FedEx SmartPost networks, which are used by many major online retailers. The deadline for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery with FedEx Ground is December 17, After that ,premium FedEx Express delivery service will be required, with a last day to ship of Dec. 22.