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(Reuters) - United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) is almost doubling the number of seasonal employees it hires for this year's holiday shopping season as it aims to avoid a repeat of last year's network breakdown during the crucial period.
The world's largest parcel delivery company said on Tuesday it would hire 90,000 to 95,000 seasonal employees to handle the expected surge in parcels during the period, compared with the roughly 55,000 it employed last year.
Shares of the company, which has 333,000 U.S. employees, were marginally lower at $97.61 in morning trading.
UPS faced criticism last Christmas when a surge in online shopping and a harsh winter caught the company off guard, leading to huge delays that frustrated customers and ran up costs.
The Atlanta, Georgia-based company had already said in July that it expected to spend more to boost capacity ahead of the busy period, which runs from October through January.
UPS said on Tuesday it was adding thousands of new or leased delivery vehicles, trailers, aircraft and portable loading aids for the period as more people buy gifts online.
The National Retail Federation in February forecast online sales to rise between 9 percent and 12 percent this year, more than double the expected 4.1 percent rise in over retail sales. Online sales alone rose 9.3 percent in 2013.
UPS's shares have gained about 9 percent in the past year through Monday's close, compared with a 17 percent rise in the S&P 500 index .SPX.
Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Sweta Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza