Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Revenue Recognition

Revenue Recognition
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2021
Revenue from Contract with Customer [Abstract]  
Revenue Recognition
Substantially all of our revenues are from contracts associated with the pickup, transportation and delivery of packages and freight (“transportation services”), whether carried out or arranged by UPS, either domestically or internationally, which generally occurs over a short period of time. Additionally, we provide value-added logistics services to customers, both domestically and internationally, through our global network of company-owned and leased distribution centers and field stocking locations.
Disaggregation of Revenue
Three Months Ended
September 30,
Nine Months Ended
September 30,
2021 2020 2021 2020
Next Day Air $ 2,415    $ 2,098  $ 7,202  $ 6,137 
Deferred 1,304  1,378  3,877  3,873 
Ground 10,489    9,749  31,541  27,745 
     U.S. Domestic Package 14,208  13,225  42,620  37,755 
Domestic 852    776  2,716  2,183 
Export 3,641  3,153  10,808  8,538 
Cargo & Other 227    158  620  454 
    International Package 4,720  4,087  14,144  11,175 
Forwarding 2,625    1,753  7,006  4,897 
Logistics 1,158  1,040  3,424  2,862 
Freight —    870  1,064  2,360 
Other 473  263  1,258  683 
    Supply Chain Solutions 4,256  3,926  12,752  10,802 
Consolidated revenue $ 23,184  $ 21,238  $ 69,516  $ 59,732 
We account for a contract when both parties have approved the contract and are committed to perform their obligations, the rights of the parties are identified, payment terms are identified, the contract has commercial substance and collectability of consideration is probable.
Performance Obligations
A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer a distinct good or service to the customer, and is the basis of revenue recognition in accordance with GAAP. To determine the proper revenue recognition method for contracts, we evaluate whether two or more contracts should be combined and accounted for as a single contract, and whether the combined or single contract should be accounted for as more than one performance obligation. This evaluation requires judgment, and the decision to combine a group of contracts or separate the combined or single contract into multiple performance obligations could change the amount of revenue and profit recorded in a given period. Within most of our contracts, the customer contracts with us to provide distinct services, such as transportation services. The vast majority of our contracts with customers for transportation services include only one performance obligation; the transportation services themselves. However, if a contract is separated into more than one performance obligation, we allocate the total transaction price to each performance obligation based on the estimated relative standalone selling prices of the promised goods or services underlying each performance obligation. We frequently sell standard transportation services with observable standalone sales prices. In these instances, the observable standalone sales are used to determine the standalone selling price.
In certain business units, such as Logistics, we sell customized, customer-specific solutions in which we integrate a complex set of tasks and components into a single capability (even if that single capability results in the delivery of multiple units). Hence, the entire contract is accounted for as one performance obligation. In these cases, we typically use the expected cost plus a margin approach to estimate the standalone selling price of each performance obligation.
Satisfaction of Performance Obligations
We generally recognize revenue over time as we perform the services in the contract because of the continuous transfer of control to the customer. Our customers receive the benefit of our services as the goods are transported from one location to another. Further, if we were unable to complete delivery to the final location, another entity would not need to reperform the transportation service already performed.
As control transfers over time, revenue is recognized based on the extent of progress towards completion of the performance obligation. The selection of the method to measure progress towards completion requires judgment and is based on the nature of the products or services to be provided. We use the cost-to-cost measure of progress for our package delivery contracts because it best depicts the transfer of control to the customer which occurs as we incur costs on our contracts. Under the cost-to-cost measure of progress, the extent of progress towards completion is measured based on the ratio of costs incurred to date to the total estimated costs at completion of the performance obligation. Revenues, including ancillary or accessorial fees and reductions for estimated customer incentives, are recorded proportionally as costs are incurred. Costs to fulfill include labor and other direct costs and an allocation of indirect costs. For our freight forwarding contracts, an output method of progress based on time-in-transit is utilized as the timing of costs incurred does not best depict the transfer of control to the customer. In our Logistics business, we have a right to consideration from customers in an amount that corresponds directly with the value to the customers of our performance completed to date, and as such, we recognize revenue in the amount to which we have a right to invoice the customer.
Variable Consideration
It is common for our contracts to contain customer incentives, guaranteed service refunds or other provisions that can either increase or decrease the transaction price. These variable amounts are generally dependent upon achievement of certain incentive tiers or performance metrics. We estimate variable consideration at the most likely amount to which we expect to be entitled. We include estimated amounts of revenue, which may be reduced by incentives or other contract provisions, in the transaction price to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainty associated with the variable consideration is resolved. Our estimates of variable consideration and determination of whether to include estimated amounts in the transaction price are based on an assessment of anticipated customer spending and all information (historical, current and forecasted) that is reasonably available to us.
Contract Modifications
Contracts are often modified to account for changes in the rates we charge our customers or to add additional distinct services. We consider contract modifications to exist when the modification either creates new, or changes the existing, enforceable rights and obligations. Contract modifications that add additional distinct goods or services are treated as separate contracts. Contract modifications that do not add distinct goods or services typically change the price of existing services. These contract modifications are accounted for prospectively as the remaining performance obligations are distinct.
Payment Terms
Under the typical payment terms of our customer contracts, the customer pays at periodic intervals, which are generally seven days within our U.S. Domestic Package business, for shipments included on invoices received. Invoices are generated each week on the week-ending day, which is Saturday for the majority of our U.S. Domestic Package business, but could be another day depending on the business unit or the specific agreement with the customer. It is not customary business practice to extend payment terms past 90 days, and as such, we do not have a practice of including a significant financing component within our contracts with customers.
Principal vs. Agent Considerations
In our transportation businesses, we utilize independent contractors and third-party carriers in the performance of some transportation services. GAAP requires us to evaluate, using a control model, whether our businesses themselves promise to transfer services to the customer (as the principal) or to arrange for services to be provided by another party (as the agent). Based on our evaluation of the control model, we determined that all of our major businesses act as the principal rather than the agent within their revenue arrangements. Revenue and the associated purchased transportation costs are both reported on a gross basis within our statements of consolidated income.
Accounts Receivable, Net
Accounts receivable, net, include amounts billed and currently due from customers. The amounts due are stated at their net estimated realizable value. Losses on accounts receivable are recognized when reasonable and supportable forecasts affect the expected collectability. This requires us to make our best estimate of the current expected losses inherent in our accounts receivable at each balance sheet date. These estimates require consideration of historical loss experience, adjusted for current conditions, forward looking indicators, trends in customer payment frequency and judgments about the probable effects of relevant observable data, including present and future economic conditions and the financial health of specific customers and market sectors. Our risk management process includes standards and policies for reviewing major account exposures and concentrations of risk.
In the third quarter of 2021, we increased our allowance for expected credit losses by $5 million (a decrease of $10 million year to date) based upon current forecasts that reflect changes in the economic outlook. Our allowance for credit losses as of September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020 was $128 and $138 million, respectively. Amounts for credit losses charged to expense, before recoveries, during the three months ended September 30, 2021 and 2020 were $48 and $51 million, respectively, and for the nine months ended September 30, 2021 and 2020, were $128 and $204 million, respectively.
Contract Assets and Liabilities
Contract assets include billed and unbilled amounts resulting from in-transit packages, as we have an unconditional right to payment only once all performance obligations have been completed (i.e. packages have been delivered) and our right to payment is not solely based on the passage of time. Amounts may not exceed their net realizable value. Contract assets are generally classified as current and the full balance is converted each quarter based on the short-term nature of the transactions.
Contract liabilities consist of advance payments and billings in excess of revenue as well as deferred revenue. Advance payments and billings in excess of revenue represent payments received from our customers that will be earned over the contract term. Deferred revenue represents the amount of consideration due from customers related to in-transit shipments that has not yet been recognized as revenue based on our selected measure of progress. We classify advance payments and billings in excess of revenue as either current or long-term, depending on the period over which the advance payment will be earned. We classify deferred revenue as current based on the timing of when we expect to recognize revenue, which typically occurs within a short window after period-end. The full balance of deferred revenue is converted each quarter based on the short-term nature of the transactions. Our contract assets and liabilities are reported in a net position on a contract-by-contract basis at the end of each reporting period. In order to determine revenue recognized in the period from contract liabilities, we first allocate revenue to the individual contract liability balance outstanding at the beginning of the period until the revenue exceeds that deferred revenue balance.
Contract assets related to in-transit packages were $339 and $279 million as of September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively, net of deferred revenue related to in-transit packages of $359 and $279 million as of September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively. Contract assets are included within "Other current assets" in the consolidated balance sheets. Short-term contract liabilities related to advance payments from customers were $35 and $21 million as of September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively. Short-term contract liabilities are included within "Other current liabilities" in the consolidated balance sheets. Long-term contract liabilities related to advance payments from customers were $26 million as of both September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020. Long-term contract liabilities are included within "Other Non-Current Liabilities" in the consolidated balance sheets.