Ho ho ho! UPS, FedEx soar on holiday shopping hopes

— Christmas has come early for the companies that help Santa deliver gifts during the holidays. Shares of UPS and FedEx are both trading at all-time highs.

It’s been a banner year for both shipping giants. UPS stock is up 20% this year. Apparently, the answer to “What can Brown do for you?” is: Deliver big returns. And FedEx has done even better. Its stock has surged nearly 30% so far in 2016.

Are the companies still good stocking stuffers for investors though? Momentum does seem to be on their side.

UPS CEO David Abney told Bloomberg on Monday that he was expecting a record shopping — and shipping — season. He said shipping volume could be up 14% from a year ago.

And the holiday gift buying bonanza already is off to a good start.

Cloud software company Adobe, which tracks sales on Cyber Monday — the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday that has become an online shopping bonanza over the past few years — said online sales hit a new record of $3.45 billion this year.

That’s up more than 12% from a year ago. And consumers are increasingly using their phones to shop. Cyber Monday mobile sales hit nearly $1.1 billion, a 34% increase from Cyber Monday 2015 according to Adobe.

And it seems many consumers decided to buy online on Black Friday instead of braving the crowds at traditional retailers too. Online sales on Black Friday topped $3 billion for the first time, Adobe said. Mobile sales exceeded $1 billion that day as well.

The success of Amazon is clearly one factor driving strong online sales. It is great news for UPS and FedEx — even though there are concerns about Amazon trying to build a shipping network of its own with investments in drones and freight airlines.

But UPS and FedEx both have many other reasons for holiday cheer.

Amazon isn’t the only place where people are buying gifts online.

Brick-and-mortar retail giants Walmart, Target and Best Buy have all stepped up their investments in their digital operations — and it is paying off. These three retailers reported strong online and mobile sales growth in their most recent quarter.

So if this keeps up, UPS and FedEx will continue to benefit.

Heck, maybe we’ll soon get an IPO from Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. (Ticker symbol of SLGH?)

And don’t forget Rudolph too of course. He is the most famous reindeer of all.

A walk down the (grocery store) aisle

— Couples have gotten married in all kinds of wacky venues — restaurants, racetracks, even a shark tank. So why not throw a grocery store into the mix?

That’s where Larry and Mary Tinson held their nuptials last week, in an Albany, Georgia, supermarket that holds special significance for them — it’s where their romance began.

Four years ago, Larry Tinson, just back from a tour in Afghanistan, stopped by Harvey’s Supermarket to grab some cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner when something else caught his eye — Mary.

“I heard someone say ‘Hey girl’ and I turned around and said ‘Oh my God, Larry? I haven’t seen you in over 20-something years,” Mary Tinson told CNN affiliate WALB.

The two had met a few times before, but it wasn’t until that fateful day in the grocery store aisle that things turned romantic.

Fast forward to 2016. The two lovebirds are looking for a place to get married and decide Harvey’s is the natural choice. The folks at the supermarket were thrilled to help.

“We are extremely excited to be part of this special day,” Ken Wicker, vice president of operations at Harvey’s, told WALB. “To our knowledge this is the first time we’ve ever had a real wedding in one of our supermarkets.”

Harvey’s helped the Tinsons plan their big day, including helping line up the live music and getting them a wedding cake topped with — what else? — cranberries.

And the wedding was held on Thanksgiving Day, since Thanksgiving dinner is what drove Larry to the supermarket in the first place.