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EDITORIAL Predictions offer a peak at a Peak like no other

This year's Peak has started – and its getting weird

If you are in the midst of preparing for Peak you may be too late – it has started. Research out this week shows that Peak shopping may have already begun, with many consumers taking the supply chain crisis to be the starting gun for buying their Christmas gifts.

The study, from Fluent Commerce, is backed up by Adobe, which shows that not only has the run up to Black Friday already started, but it is also going to be a ‘low discount’ year, with merchants and brands being less generous as supplies look tight.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t going to be a bumper year, far from it. Adobe is predicting that this peak season will net retailers worldwide $910bn in sales, making 2021 the biggest ecommerce year on record with revenues of $4trn worldwide.

Prices are rising due to demand rising as supply slows, so revenues from sales will be up slightly and discounting will be down. Consumers, spurred on by the beginnings of panic buying, are also less likely to be looking for deals, instead looking first and foremost to secure what they want and, secondly, for fast delivery.

Among the winners in this are going to be department stores, predicts a separate study, with Fortnum & Mason coming out as top dog. Interestingly, both John Lewis and, would you believe, Amazon are both going to see lower sales this year.

The study by MediaVision extrapolates online traffic and trend patterns using previous year’s data and has arrived at a scenario where Amazon sells less and Fortnum & Mason and Fenwick sell more. Why? Because, department stores offer variety and are still trusted brands. Amazon is seen as cashing in on Peak.

There is also the fact that Fortnum’s opened its online Christmas shop in September and is already way ahead of most other retailers.

All this marks the end of a year that has been very good for ecommerce. A third study this week reveals that some $490bn of retail revenue has made its way from stores to the web in 2021 worldwide and that the trend is set to continue. It also finds, once again, that shoppers are increasingly borderless, with international ecommerce on the rise.

According to data from ESW’s ‘Global Voices: Pre-Peak Pulse 2021’ survey of almost 15,000 consumers across 14 countries, 35% of shoppers didn’t miss in-person shopping during the pandemic, increasing to 39% of Millennial respondents, as lockdowns and restricted access to physical retail further eroded the relevance of bricks and mortar retail to the next generation of shoppers. 

In line with this, 52% of global shoppers aged 25-34-years-old said they had bought direct from an online international brand during lockdown. 

Many of these shoppers are also turning to brands and retailers not based on where they are, but on their ethos. A study of consumer values finds that almost three quarters of them are now actively worried about the environment – COP26 delegates take note – and are shopping accordingly. Brands that share their concerns and are doing something about it are reaping the rewards.

According to the study, 52% of people said they think about whether the brand they’re buying products or services from supports the ethical issues they feel strongly about. Nearly half (49%) of respondents would switch to brands that are more aligned to their ethical values.

Some 46% said brands should be doing a lot better when it comes to being environmentally responsible.25% said that environmental issues were their number one reason for choosing a service or product from a brand.

Together these factors are set to make this Peak like no other. It is diluted across many weeks, with a very early start, it won’t be driven by discounts, yet it is going to be a bumper year.

That’s the prediction, anyway: how that actually plays out remains to be seen.

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