Online shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still prevalent, but the rush to get those online deals is fading in significance as the major e-commerce boom rages on—one of many impacts brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, between November 1st and November 28th of this year, online spending throughout the United States rose by nearly 14% as compared to the same time period in 2020–reaching a total of $99.1 billion for that month, with November and December’s combined spending expected to reach around $207 billion–a 10% boost from the end of 2020. However, Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales incentives have been dwindling due to supply chain strains.
Additionally, overall discounts for these once-major-sale dates have been diminishing; Adobe noted that average electronic discounts on these days only reached about 12%, as compared to an average of 27% the year prior. Jams in the supply logs and shipping processes of carriers are further exacerbating the issue. Between November of 2019 and November 2021, company out-of-stock messages increased by 258%.
“This is a make-or-break season for aggregators, and whoever has inventory is going to win,” said Goja CEO Walter Gonzales, whose company sells a variety of goods directly on Amazon.
For other Amazon sellers, getting inventory brought into the states efficiently and quickly is as imperative as ever, with Amazon sales increasing by around 50% as compared to last year (particularly for giftable products that are usually in stock).
“Kitchen products are doing very well,” said Pierre Poignant, co-founder and CEO of Branded Group, which sells various home and personal care goods on Amazon’s platform and is selling nearly 50% more products this year than last. “We made investments to make sure we had sufficient inventory for the holidays.”
Although many stores ramped up efforts for the usual holiday shopping rush, the pandemic has made clear that most people prefer to make their purchases–especially for gifts–conveniently online, a trend that’s likely here to stay.
“Physical Black Friday had this aura of craziness because people fought in stores and camped outside,” said Juozas Kaziukėnas, Marketplace Pulse’s founder and CEO. “Now that so much has shifted online, it’s lost its excitement.”
Many brick-and-mortar stores are now turning to increased online options, deals, and shopping incentives to keep up with these demand changes and trends, hitting cyberspace hard in a search for more customers during the holiday season.
“We’re giving away e-gift cards for $5,000, $1,000, and $500!” said Kohl’s in a holiday season tweet. “Follow @kohls, retweet this post, and include #KohlsCyberMondaySweepstakes for a chance to win.”
With online retailers turning to the trucking industry to bring in their needed inventory on time, as well as to ship and deliver their orders, many safety advocates have pointed to the already-challenging shipping bottlenecks that have been taking place during this new era of e-commerce, on top of a long-running and severe truck driver shortage that is making carriers take drastic measures to meet demands.
For instance, some carriers may be willing to bring in younger, inexperienced drivers with much less training in order to have more hands on deck during the holiday season, and truckers may also be feeling so much added pressure to meet their deadlines that they forgo certain safety protocols or drive longer hours with less sleep.
Keeping drivers behaving as safely as possible and ensuring that they are always well-versed in best practices while on the road is of the utmost importance, especially during high-demand seasons in the midst of an already-heavy trend of online shopping continuing throughout the country.
“It goes back to training,” noted Levinson and Stefani’s Ken Levinson. “Just because everyone’s in a rush to get things done, it’s not an excuse to let safety go to the wayside.”
It’s also unfair of carriers to put the pressures of holiday demands on the shoulders of their truckers, he added.
“Often, unsafe trucking companies have unrealistic expectations based on their truckers’ pay and delivery times that it creates a huge incentive to be unsafe, and we can’t have that,” Levinson added.