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Black Friday Boost: U.S. Retail Sales Surge 2.5%, Driven by E-commerce Surge

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Black Friday Boost: U.S. Retail Sales Surge 2.5%, Driven by E-commerce Surge

Mastercard Spendingpulse has reported a noteworthy 2.5% year-over-year increase in U.S. retail sales on Black Friday, excluding automotive transactions and not adjusted for inflation. In a forecast made in September, Mastercard SpendingPulse anticipated a 3.7% growth in U.S. retail sales, excluding automotive, for the holiday season spanning from November 1 to December 24.

Black Friday, a traditionally robust day for retail sales following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, saw a surge in e-commerce transactions, spiking by 8.5% year-over-year as consumers sought deals online. In-store sales also saw a modest uptick of 1.1%, according to Mastercard Spendingpulse.

Data from Adobe Analytics aligns with these findings, revealing that U.S. shoppers spent a substantial $9.8 billion online during this year’s Black Friday, in line with expectations set by the data and insights division of software firm Adobe (ADBE.O). This surge in online spending contributes to the evolving landscape of Black Friday shopping habits.

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Tis the Season to be Busy

Every Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the warehouse logistics sector faces a delivery challenge worthy of Santa himself. Successfully capitalizing on the peak demand of the holiday season relies on maximizing operational scalability, efficiency and reliability. Warehouse automation expert, Prime Vision, has ready-made solutions to achieve this, so its customers get the gift of maximum profitability every year.

The Christmas rush in numbers

Originating in the USA and taking place after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day globally, while Cyber Monday holds that title for e-commerce sales. Both days place incredible pressure on logistics operations due to a huge spike in demand. Businesses that can’t scale up operations fast enough fail to deliver and disappoint customers, but those that can keep pace reap the rewards of the most profitable time of the year.

Illustrating this, in the UK, sales during Black Friday 2022 reached around £12.3 billion – an 8.3% increase from the previous year.(1) The USA saw a 2.3% rise in online sales over the same period, totalling $9.12 billion (excluding in-person purchases). (2) More growth is predicted for 2023. Three-quarters of UK consumers in a survey said they’d make a larger amount of gift purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year than compared to 2022. (3)

Scaling up this season

Efficiently scaling up a logistics operation within existing space constraints is challenging anyway, but current market conditions further complicate things. It’s no secret that logistics is experiencing a labor shortage, as a lack of enthusiasm among younger generations, early retirements, talent drain during the pandemic and traditionally poor working conditions have hit recruitment hard. However, even if the personnel were available, expecting manual labor to cover the peak demand of Black Friday and Cyber Monday isn’t feasible or sustainable.

As is often the case in warehouse logistics, automation has the answer. Highly scalable, efficient and flexible solutions, such as robotics, computer vision, analytics software and autonomous sorting, enable businesses to expand infrastructure to meet peak demand. All can improve efficiency within the existing site footprint, allowing warehouses to maximize available capacity.

Furthermore, automation can protect warehouse staff from burnout, carrying out the laborious or repetitive tasks so that workers can focus on managing and supervising the process. Consequently, automation can secure profitability by temporarily increasing throughput, but in a sustainable way that safeguards employees.

Robots in Santa’s workshop

Prime Vision robots are a great example – a scalable solution ideal for moving items to different areas during the sorting process. Unlike static conveyors, the fleet can be quickly expanded to accommodate increased demand, injecting flexibility into any logistics process. Furthermore, they take the strain out of sorting, so higher volumes of items can be moved without subjecting staff to tiring manual labor. Robots can work safely in confined areas too, maximizing space efficiency.

However, even with the most scalable and efficient automated warehouse operation, reducing equipment downtime is imperative. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, any unforeseen breakdowns can mean bigger losses and a larger number of unsatisfied customers. In the festive spirit of bringing people together, Prime Vision provides close support to its customers to help reduce any risks of downtime.

Getting uptime for Christmas

Prime Vision’s Protection & Care service carries out 12,000 assurance checks on hardware and software operated by its customers every few minutes. The watchlist covers 2,000 servers globally – assessing memory usage, CPU strain and even server room temperature. The goal is to proactively identify and resolve issues before they occur and cause downtime.

The system has greatly reduced support tickets and stopped a quarter of all potential incidents before they have affected operations. Moreover, the service is still developing. Prime Vision recently upgraded to a next generation monitoring package for modern virtual spaces and is laying the groundwork for providing preventative maintenance by 2025. This monitoring and responsive support is offered year-round, but securing uptime is of special importance during the festive period.

Meeting delivery expectations for everyone

While Santa seemingly has endless capacity on his sleigh, logistics businesses have no such luxury. Accommodating the year-on-year growth in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales relies on engraining scalability, efficiency and reliability into warehouse processes. Whether this involves a fleet of robots reducing the strain on staff or having a proactive monitoring partner for safeguarding key infrastructure – Prime Vision has the solutions to make sure warehouse operators and customers get what they asked for this Christmas.


1)      UK Black Friday Market Report 2023 – Mintel

2)      Black Friday Sales Numbers Hit Record Highs Despite Fears Of Recession – Forbes

3)      Black Friday in the United Kingdom (UK) – Statistics and Facts – Statista


Black Friday 2022: What You Need To Know

A Texas A&M retail expert says inflation and supply chain issues will make for another abnormal holiday shopping season, with the threat of a nationwide rail strike also looming. Read more on Texas A&M Today

As retailers and consumers look ahead to Black Friday and the rest of the holiday shopping season, Texas A&M marketing professor Venkatesh Shankar says factors like inflation and supply chain hiccups are continuing to shape consumer behavior in a big way.

Despite growing concerns about a possible recession, holiday spending is still expected to surpass last year’s levels, he said. But rising costs are prompting many to adjust their spending habits.

“Because of the inflation, people are prioritizing what they need, so there’s more spending on staple items. Grocery spending is still very important to people,” said Shankar, who serves as the Ford Chair in Marketing & E-Commerce and director of research for the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School.

At the same time, spending on discretionary items like extra clothes and electronics has been more subdued as families aim to rein in their budgets, he said.

In an effort to get out ahead of an anticipated economic slowdown, some retailers started trying to bring in holiday shoppers as early as October this year, Shankar said. There’s already been a spate of “early Black Friday” sales as companies try to move their surplus inventory.

“The standard Black Friday has become a much longer event,” Shankar said. “Retailers would be happy to see consumers spend over the entire holiday shopping period, from the lead up to Black Friday all the way to Cyber Monday and even beyond.

“I think overall, spending should be okay,” he continued. “But I think for that particular weekend, it’s not going to be anything spectacular.”

What You Should Keep In Mind This Black Friday

For those aiming to make the most of this year’s Black Friday discounts, Shankar’s advice is to start early and look carefully, both in-store and online — but keep in mind that kinks in the global supply chain will continue to impact what you see on the shelves.

“Some items are in excess supply,” Shankar said. “During COVID, there were lots of supplies that were stuck in ports. Those items were supposed to have been sold much earlier, so as a result, we now have an imbalance.”

Many other products remain scarce, as international shortages of key components like microchips delay production.

“Chips are still in short supply, so your gaming systems like the PlayStation 5 and so on will be in short supply,” Shankar said.

Supply issues could also lead to an uptick in post-holiday returns in early January. When shopping for loved ones, Shankar said it never hurts to get a gift receipt just in case.

“Because of the uncertainty right now, retailers should anticipate higher returns,” he said. “At least for certain items for which consumers wanted a particular brand and couldn’t get it because of short supply.”

Rail Strike Could Create Complications

Domestically, the U.S. is again facing the possibility of a nation-wide rail strike that could paralyze its supply lines, as the country’s rail workers continue to fight for improved pay and working conditions. The Washington Post recently reported that such a strike could be underway as soon as Dec. 5 if ongoing disputes between the railroad companies and their employees aren’t resolved.

“The pandemic created this opportunity for lots of labor movements to raise their grievances, and it’s going on everywhere, not just in railroads,” Shankar said.

In this case, a strike would cut off shipments of coal, drinking water, and other essential resources while also dealing a major blow to holiday shopping and travel. But Shankar said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that a settlement will ultimately be reached in time.

“There’s this bargaining and posturing that might be going on, but I think we should see that in the holiday season, sense will prevail among all the stakeholders,” he said.


Coupa Holiday Retail & Supply Chain Survey

  • What are some of the biggest challenges the supply chain and retailers are facing this holiday season?

Inventory levels are higher overall this holiday season which has caused a variety of challenges for supply chains and retailers alike. People are shopping early, but there is less demand for big ticket items and more demand for necessities and staples given the inflationary trend. According to data from  Coupa, over the past two years, retailers have grown their inventories to historically high levels, with warehouse and distribution spend rising over 30% resulting from the glut of inventory and not enough storage and distribution capacity. Retailers are struggling to draw down from the large inventories they’ve built up so we should expect this holiday season to be about getting rid of backlogged inventory. Inventory build up is a result of changes in consumer behavior  based on skyrocketing inflation rates,excess ‘Just in Case’ inventory being used as a cushion in anticipation of another disruption, and seasonal merchandise that arrived late.. 

  • How are retailers coping with these issues?

Retailers must balance the scales and also focus on what practices will actually benefit their business while catering to the demand of customers. Buy online and pickup in-store are customer crowd favorites during the holiday retail season, however, this impacts real-time  in-store inventory. Notably, nearly all (93%) respondents reported they’re concerned that consumer worry might reduce spending this holiday season. A way to combat excess inventory is for retailers to leverage price as a lever to promote/ markdown excess inventory, study stock keeping unit (SKU) behaviors in order to anticipate consumer demand for products based on location and channel and redeploying inventory based on such predictions. Retailers can also utilize scenario planning on the digital model of the physical supply chain (a.k.a. Supply Chain Digital Twin) to optimize inventory targets and manage their back stocks effectively. 

  • How have supply chain struggles continued to impact holiday shopping?

Disruptions throughout the supply chain on a macroeconomic and geopolitical scale continue to affect holiday shoppers with delayed shipments and a shortage of raw materials. Shipping,transportation costs  in addition to material costs continue to pressure suppliers and only some of those costs can be passed down to consumers. Additionally, labor shortages across the supply chain resulted in workers taking on shifts and an expansion of roles beyond their scope. In terms of transportation, this week, U.S. freight rail workers are negotiating over contracts which potentially could lead to a massive union strike in the midst of the holiday shopping season. If this were to happen, retailers and the supply chain would experience massive delays and economic losses during a peak shipping and delivery season. 

  • How are labor shortages impacting the holiday shopping season?

Retail workers are unprepared and unhappy about the additional responsibilities thrown their way due to staff changes. In fact, 98% of those workers that have experienced turnover and/or layoffs say that due to resignations, layoffs, and/or talent shortages, they have had to take on additional responsibilities in addition to the functions outlined in their job. Without the right tools, technology and training, workers are considering leaving their job for one that more closely fits their original job description. 

  • What kind of incentives are businesses offering customers this season?

Sales are starting earlier every year and stores are eager to reduce the amount of surplus inventory. In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales will extend longer as retailers look to capitalize on consumer demands. However, retailers should be selective with what goods they select for promotions, as consumers may feel sales fatigue if they know a deal will be available for longer.  Additionally, 39% of retailers are offering buy now, pay later (BNPL) options to help consumers manage their holiday budgets. With customers dealing with higher prices due to inflation and economic uncertainty, they are being careful about what is being purchased this year.

It’s important for retailers and businesses to focus on the customer experience as they remain locked in the battle for brand loyalty. Retailers will need to provide consumers experiences they can’t find in other stores for less money or risk losing lifelong customers. 

We will also see more in-store promotions as retailers look to lure shoppers back into stores. Subscription programs that include free delivery and value added services such as streaming will be more prominent as retailers try to lock in loyal shoppers.

  • How has the impending recession affected the holiday shopping season? Will we see fewer Black Friday deals this year?

Rising gas prices, grocery bills and increasing inflation rates have affected shoppers as the economy heads towards an impending recession. Many consumers are already substituting store brand goods for name brands and are more selective on what they are purchasing. There is a greater need for consumers to find the best deals available even with a tighter budget. However, 90% of respondents noted they are offering fewer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals than last year amidst supply chain challenges. Retailers must balance the need of pricing items accordingly with their current inventory surplus in order to maximize their profits and satisfy consumer demand. 

The survey was conducted online between October 4 and October 10. The 602 respondents are employed in management-level or higher positions at retail companies having more than 500 employees.

e-Commerce: Last mile delivery india profit 8fig amazon logistics

7 Little Things to Improve an eCommerce Business

An eCommerce business is more dependent upon the goodwill of its clientele than brick-and-mortar stores. It is very simple really. In an average real-world store, once a customer walks in they are more likely to purchase something. After all, they have made the effort of reaching the store and checking the products. Few people walk out of a physical store empty-handed. However, the same does not apply to an eCommerce outlet since they can simply close the link and go to another site.

Here is what you can do to make sure that this doesn’t happen frequently.

1. Downtime is off time

One of the best things about an eCommerce site is that it’s always available,  24/7. Now that more and more people are logging on to the net to buy products, you can take advantage of it by selling your wares even when you are fast asleep. However, that won’t happen if unfortunately, your site crashes repeatedly. If the site is offline, it is likely that your target audience won’t wait and simply move on to another site.

2. Slow sites don’t get many customers

The average attention span of an online buyer is around 3-4 seconds. If the site doesn’t open fast enough, it is likely your customers will simply move on in search of other options. And why not? After all, there are millions of other online eCommerce outlets out there. If you want your customer to stay with you, make sure your site is as fast as possible.

3. Make sure the CTA is always accessible

Why should your customers come to you instead of your competitors? It is because of your CTA. This is basically the ‘call to action’ that attracts people into the web marketing tunnel. If this call to action is not available or accessible, you will lose out on a lot of customers. Your shopping cart should also be easy to see so that the customer knows how to buy the product.

4. Get rid of slow-selling products

In every store, there are products that sell fast and those that don’t. Concentrate on the former and eliminate the latter entirely from your store. They will stop your cash flows and over the course of time, bring down your business. Of course, you don’t have to throw them away. You can offer them at a real sale (as opposed to one where retailers inflate prices and then cut them down to give an impression that they are on sale). Once the customers see that you are offering a brief opportunity to add real value to their lives, they will buy your slow-moving products and help you clean your shelves. This way, you will also be able to get your cash flows moving.

5. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

The number of people shopping with their smartphones has increased dramatically in recent months, and there is no sign that the trend will be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, 79% of smartphone users have made an online purchase using this mode within the last six months! This means a site that is not mobile-friendly will lose all of that vast potential market. It is absolutely imperative that your site should be mobile-friendly so it can be easy to see even on a small screen. Apart from that, you should also work on your SEO (search engine optimization) techniques so your site will show up on organic searches on the search engines.

6. Add a live chat option

Live chats will help to gently nudge your customers towards the purchase decision by answering all of their questions. It is a great way to boost your conversion rates and keep your target market happy. Even if they don’t buy the product, the speed and excellence of your response will make them come again. At the very least, they will bookmark your site.

7. Consider using residential proxies

Using residential proxies for market research will give you great insight into the buying habits of your target audience. At the same time, they will allow you to remain incognito.

If you are really interested in increasing your sales and improving your eCommerce business, you must make sure there is no downtime or latency on your site. You should also use residential proxies to help you with your market research with regard to your target audience.


Pilot Freight Selected for “Logistics Provider of the Year”

Major motion picture 3PL provider, Technicolor, recognized Pilot Freight Services as the 2018 Logistics Provider of the Year. The eMemphis-based, long-term Pilot customer relies heavily on the freight forwarder for time-sensitive deliveries of  DVD displays to big-name retailers, ultimately supporting Technicolor during peak, fourth quarter deliveries while providing the company unwavering support.

“Pilot pulled out all the stops to make sure we were in every store we needed to be in for Black Friday and continued their stellar support through the busy holiday season,” said Elaine Singleton, vice president of supply chain at Technicolor.

A variety of strengths launched the global company at the top of the list for the recognition, among them included on-time service; communication and proactive tracking; billing accuracy; and proof of delivery. The final decision was made by Technicolor staff votes.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by Technicolor as their Logistics Provider of the Year,” said John Hill, president and chief commercial officer of Pilot. “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Technicolor and our abilities to coordinate and handle time-specific deliveries have been able to help us both grow in our respective industries.”

Source: Pilot Freight Services

The “Deadly Dozen” and Human Behavior

Maritime safety and ensuring minimal risk impact is a topic that isn’t discussed enough. Human error is unpredictable, and until shippers evolve into a fully digitally integrated system, human hands are absolutely essential to keep business moving.

A report released  provides insight and tips to consider and leverage for improving procedures. Surprisingly enough, the majority of the high-risk behaviors analyzed are fairly common and are the determining factor between making or breaking business initiatives and successful processes.

Reducing risks while on the sea can greatly impact workers and business relationships beyond the numbers, creating satisfaction and a positive working environment. One of the most common themes in the trends highlighted boils down to simple communication: alerting, situational awareness and mindfulness of culture differences. Without effective communication, business is a shot in the dark.

Here are a few examples taken from the deadly dozen to consider:

Situational Awareness

This asks the obvious but extremely important question of, “What’s the situation?” If you can’t answer this, it’s a problem. The report advises effective communication and always leveraging your team for feedback. Remember to ask yourself WHIM: “What Have I Missed?


Make sure to speak up at all times. Encourage this within your team and don’t chastise an assertive or proactive approach to a potentially disastrous situation. Again, this is directly linked to effective communication. Alerts can save lives and prevent accidents.


Understand that 30% of communication is actually verbal and different cultures have different approaches will not only reduce risks but also eliminate possible strife due to offense. The report advises implementing climate control internally and externally through considering these factors for success.


Don’t overwork your crew – it doesn’t pay off and creates a toxic and risky environment. The report highlights this is an ever-present condition for workers on the sea and can create ill-health as well as present risky conditions.


Cutting corners should never be an option. In doing so, details are overlooked, tension is caused and stress is multiplied. Ensure there’s a system of balance in place and there’s always someone keeping a finger on the pulse to verify the safety and wellness of the team. Healthy pressure can create productivity, but don’t push it.

These common-sense tips and approaches can become more difficult to implement the more demanding the market becomes. Maritime trade is one of the largest sectors the industry utilizes. Within this sector, the human element is the common denominator associated with accidents, incidents and errors.

To view the full report, visit: Human Element Guidance


Source: MGN 520