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Editor’s column: van vs food


Sean Fleming

Sean Fleming, editor

There’s every likelihood that by the end of next week you’ll be doing what most of the rest of the country is doing – eating and drinking to excess. And even if you’re not going to really overdo it, you’ll almost certainly pack away more food, booze, chocs and other treats over the course of Christmas and Boxing Day than you’d normally dream of.

Now, if you tried eating and drinking at Yuletide rates all year round, you’d almost certainly make yourself ill. And if you tried to plough your way through your entire Christmas Day spread in one sitting you’d very probably collapse.

Coping with Christmas often boils down to the simple matter of pacing yourself; you wouldn’t want to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and countless snacks all at one sitting, in much the same way you mightn’t want to have all your friends and family descend upon you at once. Plan it, space it out, spread the load and the whole thing can be far more bearable. Who knows, you might even enjoy it. Bah, humbug, etc etc.

The last three weeks in the UK retail sector have also demonstrated what can happen when you take on too much all at once.

Here in the UK, Black Friday 2014 was noticeably greater than in 2013. There’s absolutely no reason to think people will have grown bored of it by the time November 2015 gets here.

As shoppers anticipate the arrival of bargain purchases, and consequently delay their Christmas shopping – after all, why shop for stuff you might get significantly cheaper over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend – the available bandwidth for processing and delivering orders during the busiest time of the year will get shorter.

Volumes are up, yes of course. But what’s more telling is the shrinking window to get through it all. And don’t forget – customers now want even more convenience and flexibility when it comes to getting their hands on their purchases. That’s another trend unlikely to go into reverse any time soon.

You might have invested heavily in your logistics set up, hired additional staff, and shifted stock to multiple locations. But if you have fewer available days to pick, pack and process millions of packages and parcels, there will be problems.

And there have been problems.

It looks like 2015 will be an interesting year of reflection and strategic investment.

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