Peak Season – Impacts from the Cost-of-Living Crisis

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Households across the UK haven’t had a break. The last three years have seen consumers navigating one crisis to another. Beginning with the shift in consumer shopping behaviours stemming from the pandemic to the current cost-of-living crisis, peak seasons haven’t been ‘normal’ for quite some time.

To help ecommerce retailers plan for the upcoming peak season, ShipStation has released their latest consumer report in partnership with Retail Economics. They surveyed over 8,000 shoppers to find out how households across the UK planned to shop this upcoming peak season, and the results are in.

Inflation Impacts on Buying Behaviours

As the inflation rate continues to rise, we are seeing an evolution of buying behaviours in households of all sizes. In August 2022, UK inflation hit 10.1%, numbers not seen since pre-1982. To better understand this, we look at how UK households plan to respond to the cost-of-living crisis.

The responses to our consumer survey indicate most households (over 70%) plan to cut back on some, if not all, of their spending. Of those surveyed, only 15% aren’t worried about the cost-of-living crisis – at least not right now.

In terms of peak season and incoming impacts on ecommerce retailers, here’s what we’ve learned from shoppers:

  • Over 25% of UK consumers plan to do all their peak season shopping online
  • Nearly 35% plan to do most of their shopping online and some in store
  • Less than 20% plan to do all their shopping for Black Friday and Christmas in store

How will the cost-of-living crisis impact peak season?

The UK’s economic future looks uncertain. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record. And it’s because of this uncertainty that peak season stands to be substantially impacted. After speaking with 6,000 shoppers, here are a few of the consequences we expect this peak season.

According to our recent survey, the UK is set to be one of the countries whose peak season will be severely impacted by the ongoing economic crisis. Of those surveyed, most said they are worried about rising costs and their impact on financial stability. The data also indicates that 40% of all those surveyed would cut back on all spending over Black Friday and Cyber Monday due to the cost-of-living crisis. The remaining 30% said they had no plans to change their shopping habits.

Additionally, the majority of those surveyed said they planned to do most, if not all, of their shopping this holiday season online. Whilst numbers are sure to be down; this is good news for eCommerce retailers.

Reduce cost pressures with automation

The UK’s economic future is anything but clear as we head into peak season. And it’s not just consumers who are suffering – retailers are also feeling the pinch. According to our research, 92% of global retailers expect to be impacted by rising costs this peak retail season.

Automation is a strategy that can reduce cost pressures for retailers on multiple fronts. On the one hand, automating processes like fulfilment and delivery can help to build productivity into workflows and reduce operating costs. On the other hand, it also helps to bring precision to operations and bolsters the customer promise. In a peak season where spending is likely to shrink, retailers must do all they can to remain competitive to win the available consumer spend, and retain revenue throughout a challenging period.

For an in-depth insight into how consumers plan to spend this peak season and what you can do to entice buyers to choose your business over the competition, download ShipStation’s Holiday Shopping Trends Report.



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