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Holiday Shopping 2023 (and Freight)

November 8, 2023 Kevin Baxter

holiday shopping

It's holiday shopping 2023 SZN! In fact, many retailers decided the season began earlier than usual, with several starting Christmas-y ad campaigns even before children suited up to trick-or-treat. And if retailers make that decision, then freight providers must follow suit to keep products ready for consumers. But whether you went along with the October extension or, like Mariah Carey, you waited until November 1 to turn your attention to yule tide - or even if you're still waiting to do so - join us as we offer a lay of the land (or garland) for this holiday season.

When Is Black Friday 2023?

The official date known as Black Friday 2023 - also known as the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. - is Friday, November 24. However, the Black Friday sale has changed tremendously from the days when customers lined up early the morning after Thanksgiving outside their favorite brick and mortar store. Now, so-called Black Friday sales happen throughout the year, and for holiday shoppers, retailers are offering specials and discounts throughout November, December - and even the aforementioned October.

Black Friday is a term synonymous with deep discount sales. Among the most popular products each year are electronics (like TVs, video game consoles and gadgets), kitchen appliances, toys, clothes, jewelry and health & beauty items - so pretty much everything. That means it's imperative that retailers have a variety of their most popular items in stock, with inventory staged to meet consumer demand. Problems arise when demand is either overestimated, leading to excess inventory (a phenomenon the past couple of years that retailers are either just or still recovering from) or underestimated, leading a company to miss out on sales.

A Holiday Season Freight - and Retail - Check-In

As the holiday season gets underway, it's a good time to check in on the state of freight relating to the retail space. After all, freight is a not-so-subtle focus of the business here at InTek. There are many market indicators out there, and at best, it's a mixed bag. The just released October Logistics Managers' Index (LMI) showed some reason for optimism with measurable growth for the third straight month. The LMI was particularly notable for its gains in Transportation Utilization and Inventory Levels, suggesting more freight is on the move again.

On the flip-side, there are plenty of less positive data points. We've gone over LTL leader Yellow's shutdown a couple of months ago, and more recent news had the Convoy digital freight network ceasing operations as well. And while there is  reason to consider some capacity leaving the market a positive in terms of restoring supply-demand equilibrium, no one wants to see companies shutting down and employees losing their jobs. Unfortunately, there is some thought that other freight businesses may be in trouble as well, with the freight recession at a "tipping point."

Companies like DHL and Maersk are still waiting for a market bounceback. And CNBC's latest Supply Chain Survey - somewhat in opposition to the LMI - expects the freight recession to persist well into 2024, with perhaps only a soft recovery occurring in the second half of next year. Another CNBC survey - on holiday spending - indicates logistics companies are not expecting a big surge for the traditionally elevated shopping season.

Going back to the inventory question, the survey shows two-thirds of logistics firms say products being moved into stores for the holidays are more promotional and lower-cost, rather than higher-priced items. Still, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday spending to reach a new record level this year, even if growth isn't quite as dramatic as past years.

Are you looking for freight solutions for the holidays or anytime? Let us know, and we'll be in touch to talk about the right strategy for your business. For more information about InTek, or logistics and supply chain issues in general, check out our Freight Guides

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