Supply Chains Brace for Record Holiday Shopping

Holiday Supply Chain

Pre-Black Friday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Monday Extended… the holiday shopping season kicks off earlier, faster, and with more intensity every year. This year, although unique in some respects, is on track for another blockbuster holiday shopping season. The holiday season started earlier with Black Friday sales throughout November. E-commerce and hardline sales rose dramatically during the Thanksgiving weekend period, keeping many major retailers on track for mid-single-digit holiday gains. Experts predict massive online shopping means eCommerce supply chain partners will bear the brunt of the demand throughout the holiday shopping season.


Early Black Friday numbers say that while in-store Black Friday shopping dropped 52.1% compared to 2019, online shopping on Black Friday jumped to a record 21.6% – accounting for more than $9 billion in online sales. More than that, Cyber Monday exceeded the Black Friday success – by a long shot. 

While Cyber Monday surpassed Black Friday as the prime online shopping day last year, it cemented its place at #1 this year as total spending reached $10.8 billion. Though seemingly not a large jump from Black Friday’s $9 billion, it is key to compare to 2019’s Cyber Monday. Year-to-year, the estimated spending range amounts to a 15.1% growth. 

For the overall holiday season, U.S. shoppers are predicted to spend more than $184 billion online — this would be an increase of approximately 30% from 2019.


So, the orders are flooding in – how are eCommerce channels responding? Supply chain and logistics companies have been preparing for months — looking to be fully staffed during an outstanding online holiday shopping season (among the current social distancing environment). Many have added seasonal employees, while balancing social distancing measures and other labor challenges. 

Results of a September poll from Monster show that over 84% of job candidates applied for seasonal work across varied industries. The top industry postings came from the service industry (39%) and the retail industry (21%); whereas most postings by title fall almost entirely within warehousing and logistics (warehouse workers, machinist, storage and distribution manager, and general/operations manager).

Picking and packing orders at the rate of speed and accuracy necessary has required additional technologies and processes. In preparation of the holiday rush, Walmart announced in October their plans to add 20,000 workers to fulfillment centers; Amazon planned to add 100,000.

A rise in equipment rentals is consequential of increased warehouse traffic and movement. Overall, the supply chain is adapting, but with a price to reflect their increased challenges. Adobe Analytics reports December 11th as the last day for cheaper shipping, with shipping prices increasing as much as 14.6% afterward. This added early shopping incentive will continue to push supply chain responsiveness.

Just as consumers and retailers adjusted to shift holiday shopping online, supply chain and logistics channels have prepared to move quickly and efficiently this holiday season.

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