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UPS will ship 34 million packages today

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Today, UPS estimates it will deliver 34 million packages — the most the company has ever shipped in a single day. It's a huge undertaking and, as The Wall Street Journal reports, weathering the storm has required major changes in how the company sorts its packages. In preparation, UPS has rolled out "Next Generation Sorting Aisles" at three different routing hubs. The machines scan zip codes and quickly flash instructions to workers, allowing packages to be routed 15 percent faster — but they're also expensive, and it's unclear how they fit with UPS' longterm goal of lowering price per package.

Still, UPS' biggest priority is just keeping up with the juggernaut growth of online retail, which is placing a greater burden on the company's infrastructure each year. Both UPS and FedEx faced significant delays last year, in many cases being unable to deliver packages before the holiday due to the sheer volume of demand. FedEx reportedly lost a major contract with Amazon, hurting the company's sales but putting even more of a strain onto UPS and other vendors. And with online sales increasing every year, there's every reason to think next Christmas will be even more of a challenge.