Christmas time is logistics time

In the run-up to Christmas, logistics, fulfilment and CEP service providers are important helpers for Sante Claus: While the pre-Christmas spirit of reflection is generally in full swing, retailers and their fulfilment partners can look forward to the busiest weeks of the year with Black Friday, Cyberweek and stationary Christmas shopping.

To ensure that all the presents arrive under the Christmas tree on time and that all the ingredients for the Christmas menu are available, all logistical processes from procurement to delivery must be well coordinated. However, forward planning for the peak season in retail and logistics is made more difficult this year by several factors.

Forecasts for Christmas business diverge

Against the backdrop of rising energy and living costs, it is difficult to predict exactly how consumer behaviour will turn out during the Christmas business. While a survey by the market research institute YouGov found that Germans want to save on their Christmas gifts this year, the German Retail Association (HDE) assesses Christmas business as follows: Despite historically difficult general conditions and a correspondingly dampened buying mood, a largely stable Christmas business is to be expected. Compared to the previous months of the year, which were rather marked by consumer restraint, the association expects an increase in sales of 5.4 per cent - which, however, means a minus of four per cent compared to the previous year.

Declining online trade, but still more parcels expected for Christmas

After two strong pandemic years, a decline in turnover is expected for online trade, which should, however, remain above pre-crisis levels. Therefore, the German Parcel and Express Logistics Association (BIEK) expects an increase in CEP shipments (B2C, B2B, C2C) during the Christmas season - on peak days to around 20 million daily. Compared to the previous months, an average of 5 million more parcels will be transported per day. The forecast volume of consignments - in terms of B2B and B2C - is expected to amount to around 750 million CEP consignments in the last two months of the year.

Seasonal fluctuations also in food logistics

The Christmas holidays also play a particularly important role in the food industry: "In our food warehouse locations, we record increases in incoming goods and goods turnover of around 20 percent several weeks before the big holidays like Christmas, which then build up even further shortly before the Christmas days", reports Peter Goer, Head of the Logistics Department at METRO LOGISTICS.

Flexible fulfilment solutions for handling the Christmas business

In seasonal business, such as now at Christmas, it is particularly important that the products are delivered on time so that they are ready for sale on time. Accordingly, it is important to be flexible in fulfilment and to be able to reliably handle volume fluctuations. "Due to our good planning and close coordination with our customers, seasonal peaks are also easy for us to handle. Here we benefit from our total storage area of around 500,000 sqm as well as from forward-looking planning. In all locations, we also have short-term reserve zones with around 10,000 additional storage spaces each. This allows us to store and handle more goods at short notice. This is because seasonal fluctuations mean that some articles are suddenly in particularly high demand and the logistics have to catch up. Here we offer our customers sufficient space and manpower to implement flexible fulfilment solutions," Goer continues.

Long-standing cooperation counteracts shortage of staff and cargo space

In order to be able to handle the additional volumes of goods, numerous additional workers as well as more loading space are needed during the peak period in trade and logistics. However, due to the war in Ukraine, there is currently a shortage of 80,000 to 100,000 truck drivers in Germany. Personnel and loading space are currently scarce commodities in logistics. This is where long-term cooperation pays off: "Thanks to our long-standing cooperation with several transport and CEP service providers, we ensure that we can guarantee reliable transports to retailers and end customers even at seasonal peaks in the current situation of shortage of loading space. Because especially before the holidays, punctual and reliable delivery of, for example, chocolate Santas to the supermarket or the Christmas gift ordered online to the customer's home is particularly important. Here, we stand by our customers as reliable partners and also provide support for short-term outsourcing needs," Goer concludes.

And after the Christmas business? Then come the returns.

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