Retailers Prepare Customers for Potential Holiday Delivery Delays
Retailers and carriers are preparing for an online holiday shopping surge that could tax shipping networks and lead to delivery delays. FedEx and UPS are ramping up their holiday hiring while expanding their weekend operations, as well as asking retailers to use their shipping network when there's more slack. And stores are pushing shoppers to buy early and are expanding services like curbside pickup to minimize the need for delivery. The moves come as most of the carriers have been at full shipping capacity for months as shoppers shifted their buying online during the pandemic.
Total Retail's Take: Retailers have been pushing deals earlier in the calendar to incentivize purchasing activity to help offset some of the volume crunch expected as we get closer to the holidays. With more consumers than ever shopping online due to the pandemic, a potential worse-case scenario of carrier networks becoming overwhelmed and holiday gifts being delivered late becomes a distinct possibility. Case in point: U.S. online holiday sales are expected to shatter previous records. Adobe Analytics forecasts a total of $189 billion in online holiday sales, a 33 percent increase compared to last year. That’s equal to two years worth of holiday e-commerce sales growth shoved into one season. The ability for retailers to offer both in-store and curbside pickup of online orders becomes paramount, giving customers an option to receive their gift purchases on time and without having to pay shipping costs. Despite all the preparations, it's highly likely we will see late deliveries this holiday season. The question will be how widespread they are, and how forgiving consumers are.