Peak 2021 got off to rocky start, from driver shortages to the battle for labor in fulfilment centres and supply chain disruptions causing stock shortages and anxieties across the retail industry. For consumers, there has been a rebalancing of online ordering vs instore purchasing and rising inflation to contend with. So how the industry fared when it comes to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now Shipping Tuesday?

This year, Black Friday in particular, has become synonymous with the month of November. It’s no longer viewed by consumers as a single day but rather a month of discounts. Discounting from retailers did start earlier this year and has been softer to ease pressure on carrier networks and issues around stock availability. Encouraged by retailers, we’ve seen that consumers have started to buy earlier to avoid disappointment.

That said, make no mistake, Black Friday is still one of the biggest shopping events in the calendar. It’s the most organized retailers with the scale, infrastructure and clout that have coped best. What are the Peak 2021 trends so far?

Black Friday 2 smashes ecommerce expectations

There was a lot of unpredictably going into Black Friday, nobody really knew what to expect. A couple of hours into the big day and it soon became clear – Black Friday 2021 was on course to become the biggest on record. At Metapack, our customers surpassed the record-breaking online volumes set in 2020 by 5% year-on-year (YoY). Despite the challenges facing the industry and physical stores having reopened, consumers are still choosing to buy online, more than ever before. Analysts at PwC have predicted that £8.7 billion has been spent on Black Friday, twice the amount spent last year, during lockdown. We also noticed more people buying electronics and technology items. Over the past week alone, our data shows a 30% YoY increase in this category.

Cyber Monday sustains online momentum

Viewed as the official extension of Black Friday, Cyber Monday this year has sustained the volumes set over the weekend. At Metapack, we’ve seen a 1% increase in online volumes from Black Friday itself. A clear indication that people are continuing to buy online and that their appetite for ecommerce remains strong, especially as we head into the final weeks before Christmas.

Shipping Tuesday the biggest shipping day of the year

This is one of the biggest shipping days of the year, when the packages from Black Friday to Cyber Monday are shipped. Retailers have been preparing to ease the strain on their carrier networks in the lead up to this day by removing free shipping and next-day delivery options as they look spread out their volumes. Carriers have added surcharges driven by fuel costs, labor shortages and network capacities to cope not just with Shipping Tuesday but the entire peak period.

This year, local depots have felt the biggest strain. High volumes of packages have been going through but low throughput due to staff shortages and unpredictable weather which have the potential to lead to a snowball effect as depots look to play catch-up, where new parcels are delivered before delayed parcels. The consequences? Retailers failing on their delivery promise and having to deal with costly ‘where is my order calls’ (WISMO) from unhappy consumers.

Metapack performance across the Black Friday period

At Metapack we’re pleased to say that we had no major incidents logged or reported over the Black Friday period. Alongside this, the average response time for our shipping labels was a super quick 99.5ms and we served 431 million available delivery options to shippers.

What next for Christmas?

Online Peak 2021 remains unpredictable following a bumper Black Friday. However, retailers and carriers are quietly growing confident that consumers will continue to shop online throughout December – and, just as important, that they will be able to successfully deliver.

Metapack’s shipping software helps the most successful retailers integrate with the world’s largest network of 350+ carriers and 4,000+ shipping services. Find out how we can help you react quickly to unanticipated rises in demand and handle massive volumes with ease.