State of Europe E-Commerce in Peak Season 2021

Jan 27, 2022

(Click to view the HD version of the infographic)

While retail shopping returned to somewhat regular operations last year, 2021’s holiday sales were far from normal. In addition to the long-term effects of COVID-19, the overstretched supply chain was another huge concern for everyone. Upon realizing the potential impact on product availability, consumers’ buying habits changed significantly during the latest peak season in Europe.

For the purpose of this analysis, our team has studied the effects of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend on parcel volume growth and transit time in Europe. We have segmented our findings into 2 time periods:

  • Before BFCM: 1 Nov 2021- 21 Nov 2021

  • BFCM: 22 Nov 2021 – 12 Dec 2021

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Parcel Volume Growth in Europe Declined in 2021

During the latest peak shopping season in Europe, we observed a significantly slower growth in e-commerce parcel volume growth. As compared to the period before BFCM, parcel volume only increased by 69.7% in 2021, down from the 93.9% growth experienced in 2020. One possible explanation could be that people were starting their holiday shopping as early as June — a whopping 4 months before the start of BFCM deals. The trend was even more notable in the UK, where parcel volume growth plunged from 97.4% during BFCM 2020 to 45.4% during BFCM 2021. A similar trend was also witnessed in Germany, where the figures went from 90% in 2020 to 79% in 2021.

“The decline for Black Friday and Cyber Monday doesn’t come as a surprise,” remarked Wolfgang Lehmacher, Former Head of Supply Chain and Transport at the World Economic Forum. “2020 was an exceptional year for e-commerce with digital adoption serving as a silver lining to the pandemic. In 2021, consumers yearned to return to the physical retail experience, which saw a shift in spending patterns during the festive peak period.”

Transit Time Improved Year-On-Year with Only Slight Delay during Peak Season

BFCM 2021: Transit times for first delivery attempt in Europe - Parcel Monitor

As compared to the start of the pandemic, parcel delivery performance in Europe appears to be recovering by leaps and bounds. More specifically speaking, the region’s average transit time has gone down from 1.5 days in 2020 to 1.3 days in 2021. Despite this overall improvement in transit times, there was an increase in delivery delays during the peak period. In fact, the hold-up during BFCM 2020 was only 8.57%, as compared to 10.08% same time last year.

“Insights into data between pre-BFCM and BFCM parcel volumes reveal the ongoing shift in online consumer attitudes towards festive shopping,” said Dana von der Heide, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at Parcel Perform. “Despite global supply chains grappling with pent-up demand for consumer goods, the improvement in transit times was indicative of consolidated efforts of many carriers being better prepared for potential peak season surges in parcel deliveries.”

What Will 2022 Bring?

With the pandemic still present, retailers can expect the need to navigate many more challenges in the year ahead. When asked to reveal his forecasts for 2022, Wolfgang mentioned the following: “We will see more innovations that will continue to blur the lines between e-commerce and retail. I’m confident that the sector will maintain its strong growth in 2022, possibly surpassing 2020 and 2021 collectively.”

Interested to know how the most recent peak shopping season fared in other countries? Don’t forget to check out our findings for the US and stay tuned for more such studies!

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