This year’s holiday shopping season has kicked off with a bang and shipping industry experts say supply chain issues that plagued last year’s season have been alleviated, however there are other dynamics at play.
With the continued threat of a rail labor strike, the peak holiday season could still be rough for the logistics industry if a key union deal isn’t reached by early December.
UPS believes that the supply chain is in a lot better shape than it was a year ago and is confident that labor agreements can be reached.
Last year, many shoppers wrapped up their purchases early fearing they wouldn’t receive them in time. This year, there is more consumer confidence and people are shopping later again. The after effects from last year are still being felt by retails, however, who found themselves with excess stock last year to avoid coming up empty on shelves. This excess stock resulted in huge pre-holiday sales featuring deep discounts by many large retailers in an effort to clear out old inventory before the holiday season.
According to the National Retail Federation, retailers learned from last year’s supply chain disruptions. Many brought products in earlier than normal this year to make sure they would have products available, and shifted to East Coast or Gulf Coast ports to avoid potential disruptions on the West Coast due to labor contract negotiations.
Consumers have also learned from past shipping delays and supply chain woes. Adobe Analytics reports an expected increase in the use of curbside pickups in December by consumers who what to avoid shipping delays.
There area also unexpected events to consider which can affect supply chain flow such as Tropical Storm Nicole, for example, which disrupted shipments in Florida and prompted the temporary closure of the Jacksonville port.
As it stands right now, the supply chain issues that impacted the holiday season last year are no longer at play, but we’re not fully out of the woods yet.