State of US E-Commerce in Peak Season 2021

State of US E-Commerce in Peak Season 2021

(Click to view the HD version of the infographic)

Yes, it’s them again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) one of the biggest shopping events of the retail calendar have just wrapped up and we are back with the numbers. With the help of our data team, we have compiled a list of the most noteworthy insights from the latest peak season in the United States (US). For the purpose of this comparative analysis, we have taken 1 Nov to 21 Nov 2021 as the period “Pre-BFCM”; and 22 Nov to 12 Dec 2021 as the period “BFCM”. Here is what we found:

Slower E-Commerce Growth During Peak Season 2021

Based on our data, there was slower e-commerce growth during BFCM 2021 in the States. Parcel volumes in 2021 have increased by 42.88% as compared to the pre-BFCM levels a dip from the 71% experienced back in 2020. This trend follows our prediction from November 2021, where we noted that consumers would likely start their holiday shopping early, even before the launch of some peak season deals. Our findings are also in line with Adobe’s analysis which pointed to a 1.4% decline in e-commerce spending throughout the Cyber week last year. 

Not long ago, we asked Nate Skiver, Founder of LPF Spend Management and an e-commerce delivery expert, to share his thoughts on the latest figures from peak season 2021. In Nate’s view, our observations “make sense” as stores had far fewer operating hour restrictions in 2021. In addition, total retail sales and e-commerce sales were more spread out over Q4, thus reducing the volume concentrated into the BFCM period.

Negligible Difference in Transit Time of Parcel Deliveries

Compared to when the pandemic first broke out, parcel delivery performance in the US has exceeded expectations in 2021. More specifically speaking, there was a 23.44% delay in delivery time during BFCM 2020, but that number decreased to 13.16% at the same time last year. The decrease in transit times amid the global supply chain crunch is likely a result of consolidated efforts by several carriers to better prepare for the upcoming peak season. According to Nate, “the combination of carriers’ network expansion and staffing efforts, package volume being more spread out over the Q4 period, and larger retail shippers diversifying their carrier base, all contributed to the improved delivery performance.” 

What Could Happen in 2022

As with any other crisis, the only thing definite about the supply chain crunch is the fact that nobody knows how, when — or whether — it will end. Given the lack of certainty surrounding the issue, it is difficult to know what will happen in the coming months. With that being said, Nate has shared his thoughts as follows: 

“I expect parcel volume to continue to grow, perhaps at a similar rate to 2021. It will be interesting to see the pace of capacity expansion in the parcel market. UPS and, to a lesser degree, FedEx remain content to conservatively add capacity, but competition in the market will be largely determined by alternate carriers’ ability to scale, as well as growth of carriers and platforms which leverage a large final mile carrier base.”

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