Preliminary quantitative data indicates that 2018 retail holiday sales were the strongest in six years, a blessing for both online and brick and mortar retailers.

Business and general media are featuring headlines reflecting strong U.S. sales data for the 2018 holiday season.

Data from Mastercard SpendingPulse indicates that both online and in-store retail sales rose by 5.1 percent between the start of November and December 24, amounting to over $850 billion in spending.  If that overall retail sales estimate holds true, it would exceed the $720 billion, and 5 percent increase in retail sales originally forecasted by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The Mastercard data indicated that sales in the brick and mortar channel increased 3.3 percent while overall online sales rose by 19.1 percent over the holiday retail sales period. US Postal Service Van

As noted in our recent Supply Chain Matters customer fulfillment update commentary, this year kicked-off to a roaring start with record retail sales between the Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday holiday weekends with retail sales reportedly increasing over 26 percent. Sales activities reportedly moderated in early December and surged in the final days prior to the Christmas holiday.

As our blog readers are more than aware, preliminary retail sales data is but one signpost, given that an increasing amount of online purchases are returned for exchange or credit. Some estimates point to as much as 30 percent of online order volumes expected to be returned this year. Thus, it will be several more weeks before a true sense of individual retailer revenues and profitability, along with season winners and losers are determined.

Amazon has already declared its best holiday sales performance ever with more items ordered than ever before but declined to share any quantitative specifics.

Previously noted by this blog were untimely online systems snafus involving retailers J. Crew, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Lululemon during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday surge weekend period.

Parcel transportation networks seemed to have fared rather well in managing the overall surge in package volumes, despite the usual winter weather disruptions. Data from ShipMatrix reflecting the initial three weeks of the surge period indicates that on-time delivery performance levels were 95.1 percent for FedEx, 97.6 percent for UPS, and 97.8 percent for the U.S. Postal Service.



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