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Pope Francis’ U.S. Visit Snarls Delivery Businesses

Pope Francis’ six-day visit to the U.S. that begins on Tuesday ushers in a week of unprecedented logistical challenges for delivery companies, railroads, the U.S. Postal Service and many shippers as cities ramp up their security and close down roadways.

In many of the areas he will visit in New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, e-commerce deliveries will come to a standstill.

Apple Inc.’s brand new iPhones are scheduled to hit doorsteps on Friday, at a time when major service disruptions in New York and Philadelphia are expected. The new phones will go on sale as scheduled that day in retail stores. But the last stage of home delivery is largely out of Apple’s control. Apple said it is aware of the problem.

United Parcel Service Inc. UPS 1.35 % told its customers that it will suspend pickups and deliveries in parts of the three cities—impacting a total of 28 ZIP Codes—during the pontiff’s visit because of the cities’ stringent security measures. FedEx Corp. FDX 0.49 % said it won’t cancel service, but warned customers of service delays and disruptions in a wider area totaling 1,210 ZIP Codes.

The U.S. Postal Service also warned of suspended deliveries in parts of Philadelphia and other delays, and said it would remove mailboxes along Pope Francis’ travel route “in the interest of safety and security.”

Last week, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said that the pontiff’s visit, combined with a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and other events, presents New York with the largest security challenge it has ever faced.

The papal visit will also have a big impact on e-commerce. An estimated 404,000 packages, or 1.3% of total U.S. volume, are at risk of delay in the affected areas, according to tracking-software developer ShipMatrix Inc.

It’s rare for delivery companies to issue such warnings, but “this is apparently one of the highest security events in decades that this country is undertaking,” said Satish Jindel, ShipMatrix’s president. “They...