Everything you need to know about online sales and fulfillment trends for 2019.

Black Friday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year as it kicks off the holiday season. Instead of being a single day, Black Friday is now viewed as a kickoff period including Cyber Monday.  The holiday shopping period is a huge economic driver for most retailers and consumer products.

Black Friday Statistics

Black Friday is still the busiest shopping day for brick and mortar, but traffic is declining.  According to the RetailNext, physical traffic fell as much as 9% in 2018 compared to the previous year. In 2017 physical traffic fell by 4% as well. 

Despite the declining trend, the numbers are still powerful with roughly 151 million people visiting a shopping center over the weekend. Over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, consumers visited an average of 11 stores according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

In contrast to Black Friday sales figures, Cyber Monday 2018 saw American consumers spend $7.9 billion, making it the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history. 2018 also set record online sales for both Black Friday and Black Friday weekend data according to Adobe Analytics.

 

Year Spent / Shopper Total Spent
(billion)
Increase (%)
2002 N/A $416.4 2.1%
2003 N/A $437.6 5.1%
2004 N/A $467.2 6.8%
2005 $734.69 $496.2 6.2%
2006 $750.70 $512.6 3.2%
2007 $755.13 $525.9 2.7%
2008 $694.19 $501.7 -4.6%
2009 $681.83 $503.2 0.2%
2010 $718.98 $529.4 5.2%
2011 $740.57 $553.8 4.6%
2012 $752.24 $568.7 2.6%
2013 $767.24 $584.1 2.9%
2014 $802.45 $608.0 5.0%
2015 $805.65 $626.1 3.2%
2016 $935.58 $655.8 3.6%
2017 $967.13 $682.0 4.0%
2018 $1,007.24 $717.5 4.3%

 

The line between brick-and-mortar and online sales is more blurred than ever. Retailers are racing to evolve in bridging the gap of both the online and brick-and-mortar environments.  While digital native brands like Amazon are expanding their physical footprints through partnerships with Kohl’s to process returns and the Whole Foods acquisition, physical retailers from Walmart to Macy’s are doubling down on their e-commerce spending and leveraging omnichannel strategies.

The stakes are high when viewed against the backdrop of consumers’ expectations for near-instant deliveries. Black Friday data showed that 27% of shoppers opted to order online for in-store pickup over the weekend. Among shoppers who opted for in-store pickup, about two-thirds made an additional in-store purchase.

Brick-and-mortar retailers will have to pay dearly for their windfall. As omnichannel retailers including Amazon, Walmart and Target evolve their “Free Delivery” model to capture additional sales, fulfillment and delivery costs will inevitably increase.

For example, in 2018, Amazon forecast a disappointing fourth-quarter profit after its Q3 shipping costs rose 22% to $6.6 billion, nearly double its operating income. Walmart and Target had similar outcomes.

Busiest Holiday Shipping Days

With the shopping frenzy, the inevitable congestion ramps up to a fever pitch the week of December 9th, with the week of December 16 predicted to be the busiest shipping and delivery week.

According to the United States Postal Service, December 16 is expected to be the busiest day online. Over 8.5 million consumers are expected to visit USPS.com for help shipping holiday gifts.

2019 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Due to Thanksgiving falling late on the calendar this year, a later Black Friday and Cyber Monday will add tighter shipping deadlines for merchants.

USPS 2019 Holiday Shipping Key Dates

Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)

Dec. 20 – First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

Dec. 21 – Priority Mail service

Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express service (not guaranteed)

UPS 2019 Holiday Shipping Key Dates

Nov. 25 – UPS Ground service modification begins, meaning some packages will see added transit times.

Dec. 2 – Ground Service Guarantee suspended

Dec. 13 – Last day to ship some UPS Ground packages for delivery on Dec. 24.

Dec. 19 – Last day to ship via UPS 3 Day Select

Dec. 20 – Last day to ship via UPS 2nd Day Air

Dec. 23 – Last day to ship via UPS Next Day Air

Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve: Limited UPS service.

Dec. 25 – Christmas. UPS holiday. No UPS pickup or delivery service. (UPS Express Critical service is available. Call 1-800-714-8779 or visit upsexpresscritical.com.)

FedEx 2019 Holiday Shipping Key Dates

Dec. 9 – FedEx SmartPost

Dec. 16 – FedEx Ground

Dec. 16 – Home Delivery

Dec. 19 – Express Saver

Dec. 20 – 2Day Services

Dec. 23 – Overnight Services

Amazon FBA Holiday Deadlines

For retailers that leverage the Fulfillment by Amazon program (FBA), Amazon’s key dates are to ensure that inventory is available for purchase during the holidays. Inventory must arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers by these dates:

November 6 – For Black Friday and Cyber Monday

December 3 – For peak year-end sales

Peak Surcharges

Shipping carriers apply peak surcharges per service line and zip code. This may require additional messaging or marketing to customers during the final days of the holiday shopping season may require an upgrade their shipping service.

Additional Tips for Holiday Shipping Preparedness

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