All signs point to a muted retail peak outlook for 2023, with many shippers booking later sailings than in the past as they continue to burn through inventory, figure out demand signals and determine what new products to introduce for end-of-year holidays, Seko Logistics executives said on a media day call. The company’s CEO still sees “green shoots” of optimism with ordering picking up.
peak holiday season
Depending on who you believe, domestic holiday retail sales were up 6% to 8%, which should cause retailers to do backflips, considering the state of the economy. But the rate of ecommerce growth was slower, reversing a trend from past years, with online sales up 3.5%, as the stores became the story.
The three major parcel carriers had a decent peak holiday season in terms of on-time performance, with service levels comparable to 2019, according to ShipMatrix, not surprising as volumes were lighter even though holiday sales increased, as many shoppers returned to stores. FedEx saw a significant improvement over its 2021 showing.
UPS for the first time is extending its peak surcharges for residential delivery beyond the usual mid-January cutoff, referring to them as by the new designation of “demand surcharges” which will be in place until further notice, while FedEx is not following suit but letting them lapse.
The CEOs of Nordstrom and Walmart both spoke this week of continuing concern over inflation affecting shoppers heading into the back half of the 2022 holiday season, as credit cards are maxed out and kitchen table budget meetings weigh using funds for gifts vs. essentials, causing retail jitters.
As did Black Friday, Cyber Monday set a record of $11.3 billion in online spending, per Adobe Analytics, up 5.8% from the first-ever down year of 2021, once again driven by heavy discounting to spur demand in an inflationary period. At the peak of 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. PST, consumers were spending at a clip of $12.8 million every minute, Adobe reported.
Black Friday looked good compared to an average day this year or even a year ago, but less so when compared to 2019. Online, sales were healthier, but just a 2.3% gain from 2021, Adobe said. Lululemon Athletica, American Eagle Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret were winners, and Gap, Banana Republic and Hollister were challenged.
Sales expectations are somewhat muted based on a welter of surveys and experts, as well as most retail earnings, but Cyber Week is still kind of a big deal, extended season and early deals notwithstanding. There are, of course, no lack of consumer jitters due to nagging inflation, with study after study indicating some degree of hesitancy.
Realizing the demand from both its merchant clients and their end customers to address the heavy carbon emissions associated with ecommerce deliveries, especially around peak holiday season, platform provider ShippingEasy is offering a carbon offset program through Jan. 12, 2023.
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