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October 25, 2019

The Impact of Environmental Awareness on Holiday Consumer Behavior

Introduction

Although the holiday season may seem far away to consumers, the transportation industry has been planning far in advance for this peak time of year. Most individuals in the transportation and logistics industry are thinking about this as early as August to ensure they are prepared for this upcoming period. Not only does the transportation industry have to consider timing when delivering goods, but also total volume to ship to retail stores and private homes. Surveys can be very helpful leading up to the holiday season to gain additional insight into what consumers need and how much they plan to spend. According to an online survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers “Americans expect to spend $637 on holiday shopping this year, on average.” Information like this can be used to estimate the amount of goods that will be purchased within the peak season.

Where will Customers Purchase?

 In preparation of the holidays, the industry must highly consider if consumers plan on buying online or in brick and mortar stores. Customers may start to notice Christmas and Hanukkah decorations in retail stores as early as September. While this may seem premature, retail stores like to get a feel for how high demand will be during the season. Planning a strategy in advance is key to the success of a retailer. With the holiday season right around the corner, Salesforce predicts that the U.S. e-commerce sales will top $136 Billion, representing 13% year-over-year growth. Resulting from such a high sales forecast, retailers need to focus on standing out compared to their competitors. By arranging volume, labor, and the store setup, vendors will tend to experience maximized revenue compared to their competition. As online purchasing becomes more popular, retailers may now find that figuring out which form of shopping customers will use has become more difficult. Services, such as expedited shipping and Amazon Prime, allow a faster and easier purchasing experience for consumers shopping for holiday gifts.  However, according to an article from MarketWatch, with the climate change concern, many will choose to pick up in store or opt for slower shipping options because of the smaller environmental impact. This may change the shipping of goods radically.

Shipping’s Effect on the Environment

Many people are starting to consider their impact on climate change following recent movements to reduce global carbon emissions. A main topic of interest among individuals is the carbon footprint left from shipping goods. According to statistics from Digital Commerce 360, 60% of consumers surveyed in 2018 said they planned to purchase from online marketplaces during the holiday season. With such a high percentage of individuals shopping online, items purchased by customers would increase the number of shipments during that season. However, this holiday season The International Council of Shopping Centers predict 90% of shoppers will purchase in physical stores; with that in mind, an immense decrease in the number of shipments compared to last year can be expected. Consumers may also turn to companies with environmentally friendly wrapping such as bioClarity, a plant based vegan skincare product, instead of purchasing from a company like FabFitFun which focuses on lively eye-catching packaging.  Returning items also tends to become an issue which results in expanding the carbon footprint. In an article written by, Business.com, they discuss how Black Friday and Cyber Monday can create a serious problem involving returns because most consumers may feel that they do not need a particular item that they purchased on an impulse decision. The topics previously discussed are just several aspects businesses and consumers should consider. Consumers may not even be aware of these alternatives and the impact they have on our planet.

Additional Holiday Employment

With an increase in demand, retailers must hire additional staff to help with holiday shopping. Many companies look into hiring additional help as early as August to ensure they are prepared for the holiday season. This allows companies to make the best selection possible regarding their employees. According to an article by Freight Waves, since the United States has such a low unemployment rate, part-time workers are able to be more selective when picking a company to work for during the holiday season. Retailers must be ready to offer competitive compensation and incentives. Online platforms now make seeking out holiday workers for businesses much easier than in the past. Individuals are now able to research specific companies online and apply for the right fit within minutes. Retailers are then able to vet applications and choose a candidate who is right for that opportunity. These workers are key factors in a company’s holiday season because of the increase in demand.

Overview

The transportation industry has an extensive impact on the success of businesses during and after the holiday season. Many may not realize the importance of this industry, but they truly are the backbone to the entire purchasing process. In 2018 alone, the transportation industry shipped a record-high of over 2.5 billion packages around the holiday season according to USA Today. This time of year can be a high stress period for everyone, but with the transportation of goods running smoothly, there is an expected positive impact on the downstream supply chain. Planning ahead of the holiday season can help determine how to stock retail stores and the shipping needs that follow throughout this period. Hiring seasonal employees is also very important with the large increase in demand. According to Salesforce, 83% of shoppers plan to shop in a physical store this holiday season, meaning that not only will seasonal employees need to be hired in warehouses, but also many will need to be employed at actual retail locations. Whether you are in the transportation industry or just a holiday shopper, becoming proactive for the upcoming holiday season is vital.