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Black Friday shaping up as bigger than ever despite supply chain woes, report says

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Shoppers are buying online at a frenzied pace heading into Black Friday and the holiday season with global supply chain woes and growing COVID-19 crackdowns not slowing down buying – so far.

So says a new analysis from Triangle-based ChannelAdvisor, one of the world’s top e-commerce services providers for buisness.

“E-commerce is accustomed to seeing significant holiday gains each year. But after the historic growth in 2020 due to the pandemic — and the supply chain issues that continue to wreak havoc on warehouses and fulfillment providers — some have speculated that holiday e-commerce growth in 2021 might be more muted,” writes Mike Shapaker chief marketing officer at ChannelAdvisor in his analysis posted Wednesday afternoon.

Taking a global view, Shapaker notes that “the 2021 holiday season will be complicated to contextualize. But from what we can tell, it’s off to a really strong start.”

In fact in sales categories tracked by ChannelAdvisor only “sporting goods and business/industrial categories are the only two that didn’t grow in Q4 2021 leading up to Thanksgiving week.”

Not even inflation appears to be hurting. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that “consumer prices rose 5% compared with the same period last year, the fastest 12-month gain since the same stretch ending in November 1990. The surge in prices this year did contribute to the 1.6% rise in spending in November, yet adjusting for inflation, spending was still up a solid 0.7% after a 0.3% inflation-adjusted gain in September.”

One caveat: Worries about the supply chain may have accerated some ordering and buying to earlier in the year, he does note.

As the pandemic drove e-commerce sales to ever-higher levels last year, the trend has continued in 2021, Shapaker points out. Recent growth trends include:

  • mobile phones and accessories (+53% in 2021)
  • apparel (+31%)
  • baby (+28%)
  • computers/networking (+18%)
  • musical instruments category (+20%)

A forecast by Adobe Analytics is predicting an 11% year-over-year increase in holiday sales, Shapaker adds.

“With pandemic restrictions loosening in 2021 and extremely strong growth in 2020, any growth in 2021 on top of the impressive 2020 growth … suggests that the acceleration in e-commerce adoption from 2020 has, thus far, stuck,” he notes.

However, that was not the case in the third quarter of this year.

In the second quarter of 2021, the share of e-commerce in total U.S. retail sales stood at 13.3 percent, down from 15.7 percent in the same quarter in the previous year,” statistical news and trends site Statista reported.

But so far October and November stats have said the online sales market is back in growth mode.

The following chart breaks down sales by gross merchandise value, or GMV:

ChannelAdvisor graphic

 

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