retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports this morning  that even as e-commerce has become "a lifeline for consumers and companies during the pandemic," the current holiday season is likely to "strain the industry as never before: An estimated three billion packages will course through the nation’s shipping infrastructure — about 800 million more than delivered last year.

"This flood of packages is hitting shipping companies at the end of a year of frenzied demand for everyday household items by a public largely stuck at home and wary of doing its buying in person. The deliveries could make or break some smaller retailers already on the edge financially because of lockdowns and fewer customers in their stores."

The story goes on:  "Packages that don’t arrive by Christmas will be a disappointment for customers but a disaster for these struggling retailers, which have been forced by the coronavirus pandemic to rebuild their business around e-commerce. The future of retailing is increasingly online, and companies don’t want to give customers any reason to think they can’t deliver."

KC's View:

Got an email from an MNB reader over the weekend about how he was "walking through my neighborhood (Williamsburg) today (and) saw UPS carriers unloading out of an unfamiliar truck and I realized that it was a rented Budget truck.   Figured I would send to you since I think it is a perfect example of capacity challenges this holiday season when a logistics giant like UPS (whose trucks are a brand presence in and of themselves) needs to rent trucks. Maybe this happens in normal times, but I’ve personally never seen it. It was an eye opener for me and hoped it would be for you too. "

It is … and an example of how far these shipping companies will go to keep up with the traffic.