There’s no denying it. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, aspects of our everyday life have changed. That includes school, dance class and scouting for kids; work, eating out or a trip to the gym to get in a good workout for adults. Yes, even the way we celebrate the holidays has been altered.
With so many people working from home, combined with the propensity to avoid interacting with the public in crowded stores, online shopping has skyrocketed. And it is not expected to slow down. In fact, an even larger surge in e-commerce activity is expected for the 2020 holiday season.
Even though online sales have been steadily climbing over the years, the pandemic has caused an unprecedented and unexpected surge in the number of packages being shipped. That’s even before we enter the 2020 holiday season.
This year, estimates are for holiday spending to increase 1 to 1.5% over last year. That means even more boxes to be packed and shipped in relatively the same number of planes and trucks. That’s a bit of a predicament.
Many reports already elude to the fact that the major carriers have reached their full capacity. Thus, as we learned in Economics class, high demand for limited space equals rising surcharges and delivery costs.
Both retailers and logistic companies are scrambling to hire additional employees to assist with the avalanche of online orders. They are also encouraging consumers to shop and ship early as they brace for a potential capacity shortage that could affect millions of packages being delivered on time.
In general, many retailers have adjusted the way they promote holiday shopping to encompass the entire season rather than a single day sales surge. For Example, the traditional Black Friday sales events are now being spread out over several days or even a whole month.
Retailers aim to drive shoppers into their stores, as online sales are less profitable due to the increase in shipping fees. But realistically, they know they must cater to the growing popularity of online shopping. Services such as Shop Online, Pick Up In Store or Curbside Pick Up are offered in an attempt to keep the sale in the store and out of the delivery truck.
The addition of these shopping convenience services means even more seasonal positions to fill for major retailers. For example, Target is adding roughly 130,000 employees to handle its customer service, in-store shelf stocking and online order fulfillment needs. And despite hiring more than 500,000 workers since the beginning of the pandemic, Walmart is adding 20,000 seasonal employees for various positions.
Amazon is not only hiring an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers for the holiday season, they will also open 100 additional buildings across its fulfillment, sortation and delivery network.
UPS experienced a 23% increase in package volume during the 2nd quarter of 2020. To assist with the continuing upswing in package quantities, they are looking to hire more than 100,000 seasonal employees.
FedEx is increasing its usual number of seasonal workers by 27% over last year. That equates to a record number of 75,000 additional employees this holiday. They are also expanding their delivery capabilities by enlarging their Sunday home delivery service areas.
The US Postal Service is anticipating delivering an astonishing 15 billion pieces of mail and 800 million packages this holiday season. To assist with this daunting task, they are expected to add 35,000 seasonal employees for positions such as mail handlers, clerk assistants and mail processing clerks.
What this means for the consumer
If you are one of the millions of shoppers online, do yourself a favor and place your orders as soon as possible. The later in the season you shop, the more likely you will experience inventory issues, increased shipping expenses and possible delayed delivery. Those are simply holiday headaches most of us would like to avoid.
For those companies trying to keep up with demand, either by restocking finished product inventory or supplying necessary components to factories, better keep your carrier’s number on speed dial.
Find yourself in a bind? Let Grand Aire’s logistics experts put their experience to work for you. We are here to quickly evaluate your needs and provide you with the best solution available. Visit us online or give us a call at 1-800-70-GRAND.