Companies are gearing up for what is slated to be the biggest peak season on record, and with increased volatility in supply and demand, logistics is a crucial ingredient in the success of retailers. Shippers should note and prepare for certain industries, in particular, that are likely to see increases based on renewed consumer demand.
To manage the anticipated volatility of consumer demand and retailer supply, shippers should take note of key factors such as loss and damage, efficiency and evolving on-time in-full requirements. Loss and damage become a more critical consideration amid a market that has first been impacted by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and now faces peak season that will show historic e-commerce purchases. Working to minimize loss and damage through full or shared truckload shipping, which avoids terminals and unloading and reloading shipments, is the most strategic move. In addition, many major big-box retailers have adjusted on-time in-full requirements, which will also need to be monitored so that shippers can make changes in freight sizes and frequencies based on modalities available to them in order to get product there according to demand. Shippers can choose between freight modes to ensure that orders arrive on time.
Forecasting specific industries that will see shifts in demand will also help shippers and carriers to adjust to a peak season unlike any other. Based on 2019 shipments, forecasts in consumer demand and analysis of trends, it’s forecasted these three industries should see a marked increase or decrease in sales and shipments this year.
The home goods category is projected to double in demand and shipments this peak season. As families gear up for hosting friends and loved ones for the holidays, Flock Freight saw loads with home goods, including furniture, cleaning supplies and other home fixtures, more than double going into October 2019. Even though pandemic guidelines have limited large gatherings in 2020, people spending more time at home and more money on home improvement will likely still drive an increase in moving goods off of shelves.
Last year, in pre-pandemic times, brick-and-mortar retailers drove a 63% increase in freight to draw shoppers in and create an enticing shopping experience. This freight included such items as signs and advertising, commercial art, plastic bags, corrugated boxes, conveyors, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. This year, expect to see declines in this category as a result of less in-person shopping and higher rates of online purchases. Notably, a number of major retailers have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2020.
Consumer recreation goods
Going into October of last year, a combination of snowfall and holiday gift-giving helped drive a 41% lift in the movement of recreational consumer goods. With the CDC encouraging outdoor activity as the safest form of recreation and reduced use of public transportation amid the pandemic, expect this trend to continue into the 2020 holiday season. Retailers will also continue to struggle to stock bikes, weights and more.
Ultimately, volatility in consumer demand and shipper supply will mean a necessary focus on efficiency across the supply chain this peak season. Regardless of industry, shippers and logistics providers will need to collectively streamline efforts in order to deal with the pandemic-driven environment.