17 Holiday Shipping Statistics To Help You Prepare for Peak Season
It’s no secret the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for retail and shipping industries. And with increases in technology, ecommerce has become the driving force behind record numbers seemingly every year. Just last year, it’s estimated that shoppers spent $122 billion with online retailers alone.
Adding to the growing trend is consumer confidence nationwide, which is currently at the highest level since 2000. The spike in ecommerce has also paved the way for higher demands within the warehouse and shipping industry. Simply put, consumers not only want faster delivery options, it’s what they’ve come to expect.
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Now more than ever, supply chain professionals need to understand how to maximize their holiday order fulfillment strategies during peak shipping season, especially with the increased demand for faster deliveries.
The Rise in Holiday Online Shopping
With the increase in ecommerce, order fulfillment around the holiday season has never been more important. For this year’s season, business analysts anticipate that 60% of consumers will spend more than half of their holiday shopping online.
A critical contributor to the holiday ecommerce increase are annual shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For instance, Cyber Monday 2017 was the biggest online sales day in U.S. history, as shoppers spent over $6.59 billion that day alone. The convenience of shopping from home, avoiding lines, and taking advantage of online deals are just a few reasons why these annual shopping days continue to drive sales during the holiday season.
As a result, shipping giants such as Amazon saw record numbers from last year’s holiday season with millions of consumers utilizing the company’s free same-day, one-day, and two-day delivery options included in a ‘Prime’ membership.
Regardless of company size, maintaining timely, efficient order fulfillment is critical for warehouse professionals throughout the year and especially during the holiday season. Below are some key statistics to consider for your warehouse when preparing for the year’s peak shipping and delivery demands.
Latest Ecommerce Holiday Trends
Before diving into order fulfillment strategies that your company can utilize to ensure a successful holiday season, it’s important to understand the latest trends during the holidays. Below are a few metrics to consider when organizing a strategy this season.
1. The Holiday season continues to be the leading shopping season—and online shopping during that time is only increasing, as 57% of consumers shifted their purchases through online channels last year alone. (That includes all generations, except seniors, preferring online formats to physical store formats when making purchases). (Source)
Ecommerce is convenient, easy, and fast. These are just a few benefits that consumers cite when asked about their preference between in-store and online shopping. With online channels such as websites and social media spearheading the peak shopping season during the holidays, the value of freight and parcel delivery has only increased as well.
2. U.S. Department of Transportation expects the value of freight moved to increase from $882 per ton in 2007 to $1,377 per ton in 2040. (Source)
Freight Facts and Figures was developed by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and calculates the extent, condition, and performance of the network over which freight moves. With a 64% increase projected in the next 21 years, the value of freight moved has been, and continues to be heavily influenced by the growing demands of the shipping and packaging industry.
Additionally, the United States economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly 70% of all freight transported in the U.S. annually. This freight includes manufactured and retail goods, so the value during peak holiday season is critical to efficiently delivering packages.
3. Nearly 16 billion pieces of mail and packages were delivered last holiday season. (Source)
This stat from the United States Postal Service considers the total volume of mail and packages that were delivered over the holiday season. The postal service adds both mail and package together for the total volume of deliveries, which anticipates a 4% increase in package delivery this year alone.
4. In the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the Postal Service delivered more than 900 million packages. (Source)
Coinciding with the statistics provided in number 3, this shows a projected increase from 871 million in 2018, to 910 million in 2019. These high-volume deliveries during peak holiday shopping season quantify the massive shipping demands on warehouses from November to late December each year.
Shopping Figures as a Result
With the increase in deliveries and shipping during the holiday season, it can be difficult to quantify the exact impact of ecommerce from a sales perspective. Here are a few figures that solidify the massive increase in online shopping during the holidays.
5. Total U.S. holiday online sales has increased from $80 billion in 2015 to $123 billion in 2018 (during November to December). (Source)
The influence of the year’s largest shopping days has certainly played a role in the massive increase of online sales in the past three years. Online shopping during the holiday season continues to be highlighted by deals and specials provided on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online sales for Cyber Monday and Black Friday reached well over six billion respectively.
6. Last year, 58 of November to December’s 60 shopping days saw over $1 billion in online U.S. sales. (Source)
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are certainly key shopping days during the holiday season, but the high volume of orders and delivery are not limited to those days alone. With over a billion in sales nearly every day during the holiday shopping season, the challenge of meeting delivery demands at the end of the year is only increasing. The next stat sheds more light on this and shows the dramatic increases expected this year as well.
7. Daily sales averaged $2.1 billion across the whole season last year. (Source)
Stat number 6 shows only two days saw sales less than a billion dollars last year with every other day rendering at least one billion in sales. With an average of $2.1 billion across the whole season, this follows the overall trend of increases in sales and deliveries for companies worldwide during the holidays.
The Importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The holiday season includes 60 shopping days from late November to early January, however, there are a couple of critical days that anchor the season. Post-Thanksgiving sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most influential aspects of the holiday season. Below are a few metrics that show the financial extent of those particular days.
8. For the coming holiday season, year-over-year growth in sales is expected across the board, including a 27.9% increase on Thanksgiving, a 23.6% increase on Black Friday, and a 19.3% increase on Cyber Monday. (Source)
As you can see, the influence of shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday is only increasing shipping demands during the holiday season. Consumers can take advantage of online deals, which can include free shipping or fast shipping options, in order to avoid long lines and shop from the comfort of their home. With such a friendly option during the largest shopping days of the year, it’s no surprise that year-over-year growth has, and continues to rise.
9. Global shoppers said that at least 50% of their holiday shopping was complete by December 3rd. (Source)
This holiday shopping report from Salesforce again shows the massive influence of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From an organizational strategy standpoint, your warehouse must be prepared for the early demands of the holiday shopping season. With consumers completing half their shopping by early December, the sooner your warehouse can meet their shipping demands, the better.
10. Thanksgiving Day made up 5.3% of the season’s revenue while Cyber Week makes up a 37% share of the season’s revenue, a 4% increase over 2017. (Source)
Again, the importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday cannot be stressed enough, as the two account for a nearly 50% share of the season’s revenue. More companies are offering higher discounts and greater delivery options during this time to promote their online sales to consumers. For order fulfillment professionals, preparing the warehouse for this influx of orders is critical to ensuring a successful holiday season.
11. 80% of Cyber Week orders shipped for free. (Source)
Shipping giants, such as Amazon, are increasingly using shipping and promotional incentives to push online sales. Programs, such as a ‘Prime membership’ offer free shipping options for customers, which during the holiday season, is a driving factor in profit and overall retention.
12. Delivery speed is important, as 97% of consumers said speed is at least somewhat in determining whether they will purchase a product, with 40% saying it is very important. (Source)
This study consisted of 650 respondents to better understand the expectations of consumers around speed and what shifts those expectations. Online retailers are pressed into offering faster delivery options in order to keep up with not only the competition, but the ever-increasing demand from consumers.
13. Nearly half (46%) of consumers expect companies to deliver faster than they did a year ago. (Source)
When it comes to organizing a fulfilment strategy, this statistic is probably one of the more stressful, yet opportunistic challenges for your warehouse. Supply chain professionals know that when it comes to delivery, speed matters. Meeting the high demands of consumers during peak shipping season is challenging and quite frankly, critical to retaining customers in general.
14. 60% of consumers reported they have decided not to purchase from a retailer due to slow delivery speed. (Source)
The statistics provided in number 7 and 8 show consumer’s expectations when it comes to delivery speed, however, this study shows just how critical fast delivery truly is. Over half of the respondents said they previously decided not to purchase from a retailer due to slow delivery speed. This may not be much of a surprise to warehouse professionals, however, it does show the critical role delivery speed plays in ecommerce and retaining customers.
15. 25% of online shoppers will abandon their order due to unexpected shipping costs being added to the order just prior to checkout. (Source)
Adding to the importance of meeting (or exceeding) delivery speed options is transparency with any shipping costs. No one likes unexpected or late fees and the same can be said for ecommerce shipping. Fulfilment strategies should account for all shipping fees on the front end, so that customers know exactly what their online order will cost from the time of ‘clicking’ on the product, to the product’s delivery.
As you can see, ecommerce during the holiday season has, and continues to grow at high rates. For order fulfilment professionals, it’s important to understand how these current trends will affect future organizational strategies within the warehouse.
16. For the first time, mobile shopping eclipsed desktop shopping with 48% of orders from mobile compared to 44% from computers. (Source)
As previously mentioned, the convenience of online shopping has aided in the massive ecommerce increase over the past five years. Adding to the increase is the seamless transition of online orders through apps on smartphones. The smartphone boom has been arguably one of the biggest factors in the massive ecommerce increase. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 96% of Americans own some kind of cell phone with 81% owning a smartphone‒a 43% increase from 2011.
17. Social traffic saw an increase of 34% for the entire holiday season in 2018. (Source)
With such large increases in ecommerce, it should be no surprise that companies are taking advantage of their social platforms to promote online deals. This online presence is especially important around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By utilizing social channels with creative hashtags and videos, companies can better promote their deals and offers during peak shopping season.
The Bottom Line
Simply put, ecommerce has become synonymous with the holiday season. Faster, more convenient shopping options through online channels has paved the way for consistent increases in sales from late November to early January.
For supply chain executives, it can be challenging to match the ever-increasing demand for faster deliveries coupled with a greater volume of packages during the busiest time of the year. That’s why when it comes to preparing your warehouse for the holiday season, it’s critical to factor in the latest trends and statistics in shipping.
Warehouses are facing a myriad of new challenges seemingly everyday, so the importance of having a viable, decisive plan for the holiday season cannot be stressed enough.
Are you unsure of where to start in preparing your operation to handle the increasing demands of the holiday season? Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert systems integrators to see how you can prepare for this and future holiday seasons.
- Romaine has spent over 30 years involved with organizations looking to optimize their distribution, manufacturing, and warehousing operations. Focusing on the customer’s processes, automation and business model, Romaine has helped dozens of organizations improve profitability by reducing labor, floor space, errors and inventory while improving accuracy, inventory turns and cut-off times.
Within the industry trade association, MHI, Romaine has taken numerous leadership positions including: Chairman of the Automated Storage & Retrieval (AS/RS) Group, Chairman of the Order Fulfillment Council of America, Chairman of the Warehouse Execution Systems Group and was one of the originators of the Carousel and VLM Product Section Group. He has also spearheaded the efforts to create the first ANSI industry safety standards for horizontal carousels.
Romaine is a frequent editorial and information contributor to hundreds of publications, blogs and online publications and has been a speaker at dozens of Supply Chain, Logistics, Lean and Facility organizations and functions. Just a few include the Parcel Forum, Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), Promat, North American Material Handling, Modex, National Mfg Week, Southern California Plant Operations, NJ Material Handling Assoc., Applied Ergonomics, Warehousing Education & Research Council (WERC), Lean Manufacturing Conference, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), NeoCon, Health Information Distribution Association (HIDA), National Catalog & Operations (NCOF), CSCMP and more.
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