As Supply Chain Matters pens this posting on the evening of December 20, the 2021 online holiday fulfillment period is now down to the wire in shipping cutoff dates for parcels able to be delivered by the Christmas holiday.

Most parcel carriers have reached their posted shipment tendering cutoff deadlines and it is now up to individual retailers to make last-minute wishes come true.

Consumers who are still awaiting a Christmas delivery date for that order awaiting replenished inventory, may have to endure another disappointment.

Amazon, is of course, the notable exception, and the online retailer will continue to grind out last minute orders up until Christmas Eve, exercising a network of over 2,000 fulfillment centers this year as well as influencing its vast fleet of last-mile airlift and last-mile delivery resources from independent contractors.

This year at this time, there was a far different picture presented to consumers.

Instead of major ports clearing out empties from the holiday surge, the U.S. West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach still have a queue of upwards of 100 container vessels to process. Chances are quite likely that not all holiday wishes will be fulfilled on Christmas. A similar condition exists among U.S. West Coast and other warehouses across the U.S., overwhelmed with inbound goods, and likely full trailer loads of products parked in storage yards because there is little available storage space.

Consumers who shopped online early were wise to do so. While there might have been a few late season promotional bargains, most desired products were likely not to be had. Online retailers and parcel carriers also benefitted because this year, there was not a multiple frequency of blowout volume orders for logistics and transportation networks to tax carrier networks.

Transportation carriers and respective logistics services providers are going to have a very rewarding post -holiday celebration, reaping the monetary benefits of a massive demand and constrained transportation capacity environment.  Profitability will be in the billions, and so will stock buybacks and added dividends for investors.

Finally, regardless of the final numbers related to the 2021 holiday fulfillment season, our prediction remains that the non-stop supply chain disruptions of this year ae not going away anytime soon. And with that, many multi-industry supply chain management teams will undertake a period of reexamination directed at restoring more control and flexibility in product sourcing, transportation capacity and customer fulfillment needs.

But first, after the best efforts for satisfying holiday purchases is completed, it will be time for supply chain, transportation and customer fulfillment workers to take a breather and celebrate the blessings of being with friends and family in-person or virtually. No doubt it has been an exceedingly long and challenging year.

Bob Ferrari


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