Even though the holiday season is still several months away, retailers are already prepping for one of the busiest times of the year. With people buying gifts for friends, loved ones and perhaps even themselves, merchants need to ensure they have enough stock - especially for particularly popular items - if they want to increase sales and ensure customer satisfaction.
To guarantee their shelves are fully stocked when prime buying season rolls around, stores are already increasing their orders and receiving more shipments. This means transportation companies are feeling the pressure as they make more pickups and deliveries across the country. To alleviate the additional demands on their resources in the coming months, some may be turning to logistic software to ensure their drivers are taking the most direct route.
More shipments going out for the holiday season
According to a new report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import volume at the country's major retail container ports is expected to jump 5.1 percent this month when compared to last year's numbers as stores seek to boost their inventory numbers before the holiday season begins. This means carriers may be required to make more stops at these ports and distribute loads locally, regionally or even across the country.
"Retailers are making up for the slow imports seen earlier in the year," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "It's too early to predict holiday sales, but merchants are clearly stocking up."
The report revealed U.S. ports handled 1.43 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in July, a 5.4 percent month-over-month jump and a 1.1 percent year-over-year spike. These gains follow the year-over-year drops seen in three of the previous four months, indicating a turnaround may be in the works.
As the end of the year draws closer and as the number of TEUs handled quickly rises, shipments could continue to increase, especially if retailers notice a strong start to holiday shopping in the coming weeks and months. This could put more strain on already understaffed carriers, making it more necessary for them to optimize their available resources with routing software as business increases.