Preliminary published data concerning the 2019 extended Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping events point to mixed results. From our Supply Chain Matters lens, the data portends that supply chain and customer fulfillment teams need to anticipate the need to support additional and likely aggressive retail promotional needs in the coming few weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday. online retail

Entering this year’s holiday fulfillment surge period, the National Retail Federation (NRF) had predicted an overall growth of holiday related sales, conducted from the period from November 1st through the end of December, would grow in the range of 3.8 to 4.2 percent, equating to upwards of $728 billion to $731 billion. This year’s online sales growth was expected to grow from 11 to 14 percent, equating to a range of $163 billion to $167 billion.

The majority of business media outlets have thus far been reporting data collected by Adobe Analytics, which monitors 80 of the top 100 online retailers.

Today’s data reflects Adobe’s estimate that online consumer spending has reached an estimated $81.5 billion between November 1st and December 2nd. That number includes an estimated $5.2 billion of online sales conducted during the Thanksgiving holiday and $5.4 billion logged by online consumers during this year’s Black Friday event. Preliminary results from both of these events fell short of Adobe’s original estimates for both of these holidays. Last year’s Black Friday holiday netted out to be $6.2 billion in online sales which further reinforces a disappointing start.

Online sales reflective of yesterday’s Cyber Monday shopping holiday were reported by Adobe to be $9.2 billion, as of this morning. Average shopping cart values were noted as 6 percent higher than last year. That number would reflect an increase of 19.7 percent from last year’s similar online event. What was quite noteworthy was an indication by Adobe that over a third of sales, $2.9 billion of the total, was conducted between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Such data would imply that consumers were locked on specific promotional bargains.

While the spotlight remains on Amazon, the only data that business media has been able to garner thus far is the online retailer’s statement that 25 million items were ordered during the extended holiday period.

Another factor related to this past weekend’s shopping events is that many larhe population areas across the U.S. Midwest and East Coast regions encountered severe winter storms resulting in significant ice and snow. That might have added to the impetus of consumers to shop online vs. a trip to local shopping malls.

For the nation’s parcel carriers, the next few days will be especially challenging having to navigate around flight delays and snow clogged streets to deliver holiday purchases.


Current Snapshot

With Adobe having pegged total 2019 online sales to be $143.8 billion, at the conclusion of the first major four-day holiday weekend, the overall number is 57 percent of its goal.  Considerably less if teams are pegging to the NRF estimate of $167 billion in online sales.

That collectively implies that over the next 22 days, online shoppers will have had to spend roughly an additional $2 to $2.5 billion per day on added holiday purchases to achieve the estimated growth goal.

Additional data comes from a November 21 NRF report indicating that more than half of holiday shoppers had already started their holiday shopping and with nearly a fourth of surveyed shoppers indicating that holiday purchases had already been made. At face value, the implication was that by the first week of November, a quarter of holiday purchases had already been made.

The above somewhat correlates with both 2017 and 2018 actual holiday sales data indicating that the bulk of total holiday sales volume was experienced at the close of the Cyber Monday event. Such data could add credence to the notions that holiday shoppers exercised early purchases to avoid added tariff costs including those scheduled to go into effect on December 15th.

What all of this data portends for retail, supply chain and customer logistics fulfillment teams is a likely period of aggressive added promotional events to achieve stated revenue and profitability goals and clear out unneeded inventories before the end of the year. Logistics teams will likely be scrambling to shift inventories and/or capacity to what remains of hot selling items. We also would not exclude major online retailers Amazon, Target, Walmart and others from such aggressive actions over the coming three weeks.

Bottom-line, the 2019 holiday fulfillment period may turn out to be somewhat different when all the dust settles. A lot more appears in-store.


Bob Ferrari


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