Peak Season 2022: How Did...

Peak Season 2022: How Did E-Commerce in Europe and the US Fare?

Feb 09, 2023

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Despite concerns surrounding the soaring inflation and the possibility of a recession, consumers in both Europe and the United States (US) have once again flocked online for bargains during the most recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales. According to Adobe, US shoppers spent approximately $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday alone, representing a 5.8% increase from the year before. Similarly in Europe, retail sales easily surpassed expectations during peak season 2022, with many countries experiencing an unexpected spike in consumer spending around this period.

With this in mind, our team has conducted an in-depth study to find out how e-commerce in Europe and the US fared during peak season last year. For the purpose of this article, we have segmented our analysis into 2 time periods as follows: 

  • Before BFCM: 31 Oct 2022 – 20 Nov 2022

  • BFCM: 21 Nov 2022 – 12 Dec 2022

E-Commerce Parcel Volumes Growth Declined in Both Europe and the US During Peak Season 2022

Our data shows that e-commerce growth in both regions slowed notably during the most recent peak season. In Europe, in particular, e-commerce parcel volumes only increased by 64.2% during BFCM 2022, as compared to the 69.7% growth observed in 2021. This 7.89% decline in growth is consistent with the projections made in our previous report, in which we anticipated a dip in Europe's parcel volume growth ranging from 5.3% to 20.1% during peak season 2022.

The downward trend was even more pronounced in the US, where the parcel volume growth plunged from 42.9% during BFCM 2021 to 18.9% during BFCM 2022 – something that came as a surprise as multiple sources pointed to US retail sales hitting a new record this holiday season. One possible reason could be that most of the increase in consumer spending occurred in brick-and-mortar stores and not online via retailers’ websites or third-party marketplaces. After all, peak season 2022 witnessed a resurgence of physical retail, with 80% of NIQ survey respondents saying they purchased something in-store during Black Friday. This could perhaps explain why e-commerce parcel volumes growth in the US declined despite the significant rise in the total retail sales across the country. 

Europe Witnessed a Negligible Change in Parcel Transit Time During BFCM 2022 

Parcel delivery performance in Europe appears to be recovering by leaps and bounds over the last two years. The region’s average transit time went down from 1.52 days in 2020 to 1.31 days in 2021, then increased negligibly to 1.39 days in 2022. In the meantime, there was a significant rise in delivery delays during the BFCM period just like any other peak season. In fact, the hold-up during BFCM 2022 was significantly greater this time at 26.4% as compared to 10.1% the previous year.

There Was a Bigger Rise in Carrier-Related Issues During Peak Season 2022 for Both Regions

Delivery issues typically fall into two categories: on the recipient's side (e.g. not being present to receive the package) or on the carrier's side (e.g. not providing timely notifications about the package's whereabouts). During peak season 2022, carrier-related factors were responsible for 7.4% of the delivery issues in the US and 3.11% in Europe, which was an increase from the previous year's 6.34% and 2.58% respectively. 

What Could Happen in 2023 and Beyond

It’s difficult to predict how peak season 2023 will turn out, as it is influenced by a variety of factors such as consumer behavior, market trends, and economic conditions. With online shopping growth starting to stabilize in not just the aforementioned regions but globally, we're excited to see what the future holds for the retail and e-commerce industries.

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