For businesses in the retail, wholesale, shipping and related industries, the 4th quarter — AKA Peak Season — is traditionally the year’s big moneymaker. But this year’s unprecedented events and economic disruptions have left them wondering: How can we plan our temporary labor needs for Q4?
Just a few months ago, the outlook was dire. However, the nation continues to open back up despite the ongoing pandemic; and forecasters are painting a brighter picture for the holiday shopping season.
Those forecasts are based on some interesting data:
- Imports rose dramatically in July, and may even have made a new record, according to the National Retail Federation.
- UPS announced that it plans to hire more than 100,000 seasonal employees and DHL will add 7,000 workers for the expected increase in package volume between October 2020 and January 2021. Those numbers are about the same as last year.
- Ecommerce has racked up a 129% year-over-year growth, thanks to pandemic shutdowns forcing consumers to shop online more than ever before. Those buying patterns will last at least through Peak Season, driving even more volume for fulfillment and logistics operations.
While the holiday shopping forecast is reason to be more optimistic in planning your seasonal employment hiring, other market factors dictate that it would behoove you to act now for an earlier than usual Peak. They include:
- Unpredictable merchandise supply due to global transportation disruptions will have consumers shopping early to make sure they get their purchases on time.
- Postal delivery delays are likewise influencing shoppers to buy now and hold for the holidays.
- Worries about a second pandemic wave and shutdown in fall/winter will get shoppers in the stores and online sooner.
- Amazon’s Prime Day is currently set for September, but rumors say it might be October — which could take business from Cyber Week. Other e-commerce businesses may move up their holiday deals and promotions in order to compete.
Unemployment rates are trending down (though still higher than they’ve been in years). With the predicted Q4 growth, that trend may accelerate rapidly. We all remember the tight labor market in recent years, and the difficulty of even finding enough workers to meet Peak needs. Now is the time to solidify your team in preparation for the holiday rush.