Business

UPS says last-minute online shopping hurt 4Q profit

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DALLAS — UPS may be forced to change the way it plans for the holiday season after December shipping problems took a bite out of fourth-quarter earnings.

The company said Friday that it took ‘‘extraordinary’’ steps to meet holiday demand, including hiring 85,000 seasonal employees — 30,000 more than planned.

But the company’s network of brown trucks and planes was overwhelmed by what it termed ‘‘an unprecedented level’’ of online shopping including ‘‘a surge of last-minute orders.’’ Bad weather and a shorter shopping season were also factors, it said in a news release. Company officials declined interview requests.

Analysts said the company will make changes including higher last-minute prices to smooth out the peak caused by the final rush of shopping just before Christmas.

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