December shopping means retailers need strong supply chains through the holidays

on Friday, December 14, 2012

December shopping means retailers need strong supply chains through the holidays Even though the Thanksgiving weekend is typically seen as the busiest shopping time of the season, it appears as though many consumers have yet to complete their holiday shopping this year. A new survey from shopping website PriceGrabber.com revealed that 78 percent of shoppers are still searching for gifts, meaning retailers will need to be well-stocked through the holiday and step up their supply chain optimization to ensure all consumers get the merchandise they seek.

More shopping in December
The survey showed that even though 33 percent of shoppers sought deals over the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday, most claim they would complete most of their shopping in December. Forty-five percent were prepared to conduct the majority of their shopping this month, and only 22 percent responded that they would not shop for holiday gifts in December.

Customers cited a variety of reasons for shopping well into December. Forty-eight percent try to take advantage of December discounts on merchandise, 28 percent identified as procrastinators and another 25 percent claimed December advertisements gave them more gift ideas.

Retailers need to keep up with demand
To keep up with last-minute consumer demand and gain the loyalty of shoppers, many retailers are offering deals and special shipping offers to those who purchase their gifts in the days and weeks before the holiday. Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, conducted a survey that revealed 45.7 percent of retailers will not end their shipping promotions until December 17, and another 5.7 percent will keep their holiday shipping protocol in place until as late as December 21.

"Even after weeks of record-level online traffic to their sites, retailers are well aware that millions of their customers will still shop at the very last minute, regardless of how early they may have started their shopping this year," said Vicki Cantrell, executive director of Shop.org. "For some procrastinators, express and standard free shipping offers could be the deciding factor in whether or not they purchase something. In anticipation, retailers will save some of the best deals of the year for the final stretch to reel in the countless last-minute holiday shoppers we see each year."

The increased amount of last-minute holiday shopping means retailers need to ensure their supply chains are functioning smoothly. This includes being certain they will have enough product to handle late shoppers and able to be certain online customers receive their purchases in a timely fashion.

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