Never mind that there’s a peaking delta variant, or a waning stimulus, or extra unemployment benefits, consumers spent a robust amount during retails fiscal third quarter, which ended the first of October. This may seem like great news for retailers, who are still trying to catch up from a year-and-a-half drought, but it might be too early to shout “Hallelujah” just yet. First, retailers ordered merchandise much earlier than normal this year to meet demand due to expected supply chain delays. This not only meant higher shipping costs, but it boosted inventory comparisons to last year. Still, while it is hard to predict exactly how numbers will shake out in the end, many large companies, such as Walmart and Target, are optimistic overall. Others, such as Kohls, made the difficult decision to reduce inventory levels this year in hopes to improve margin but still feels they are well positioned for the holiday season.

Regardless of depressed inventory or supply chain disruptions, numbers show that consumers are still excited for holiday shopping. Matthew Shay, National Retail Federal president and CEO said, “We continue to urge consumers to shop early and shop safely, and we fully expect this holiday season to be one for the record books.” While it’s certain that at some point spending will tighten and the freight demand and supply chain congestion will ease, currently consumer demand is still high and merchandise levels remain historically low, so we might have to wait until Christmas next year to see a big change in the freight market. Whether the forecast calls for a fresh inventory replenishment/freight cycle, or we continue to carry on through the current supply chain delays and frustrations, Soren is prepared to service our customers and work with our carriers to keep freight moving throughout the country. We know that without this vital service, not only would there be a lot of sad faces on Christmas morning, but many important daily needs would not be met. We are thankful we can be a part of this great industry. (https://www.freightwaves.com/news/retail-inventories-up-ahead-of-holidays-but-replenishment-cycle-still-lengthy)