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Delta variant derailing high back-to-school shopping

Delta variant derailing high back-to-school shopping

Just over a month ago, we and many companies and others in the industry were reporting on predictions for an early start to back-to-school shopping this year, with strong demand and record sales numbers. Based on a poll completed from May 27 to June 5th, Deloitte had estimated that back-to-school spending for kids in grades K-12 would reach $32.5 billion this year, up 16% from 2020, averaging out to about $612 per student, and that many were beginning spending early in preparation for a return to in-person learning in September.

A lot has changed since then.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant has impacted shoppers’ comfort levels with in-store shopping, with a recent poll showing that 64% of consumers say they are now very concerned about the virus — a 25% jump from July — and 56% reporting feeling nervous about interacting with sales associates in stores. As a result of these concerns, nearly three quarters of college students have yet to complete even half of their back-to-school shopping, with many citing uncertainty around what they will need for the coming school year as colleges contemplate the impact that the delta variant will have on current plans for a return to in-person learning, as well as a current lack of good deals on essentials as the reason for their delayed purchases. 

As the polls have shown, many families, businesses and students have delayed the dreaded money drop on school supplies due to concerns related to COVID-19 and the new delta variant, but with the virus closing factories overseas and slowing down shipment and delivery of many essential back-to-school products, it’s clear that high prices are keeping many others away as well.

So what can shippers do?

When it comes to addressing these issues, most freight optimization shippers are faced with a choice — either get the products in stock on time at a high price or go with a low price that will see deliveries coming in late. For companies that are looking to keep costs down while keeping their supply chain moving to get products in stock and promotions on track, it may be a good idea to look at expanding your carrier network.  

Of course, expanding your carrier network on your own is time-consuming, which is why you need to look for the right shipping technology platform to streamline the process. No matter how you opt to expand your carrier network, the key to gaining a true competitive advantage is to utilize the right combination of carrier options, modes and data and features.

With 2 million ELD-connected units in our carrier network, access to capacity across modes like drayage, FTL, LTL and parcel, and a 98% on-time pickup and delivery rate, Shipwell software has the tools you need to deliver in time for the back-to-school season. Plus, with our powerful data analytics platform you can also uncover savings on up to 25% of your current freight spend through improved carrier options, route optimization, shipment consolidation and more. From managing carrier flow into distribution centers, to tracking trucks en route to stores across the country, to negotiating port congestion and drayage providers to ensure rapid delivery, Shipwell’s TMS integration has everything your business needs for a successful back-to-school season this year.

To see how our 3-in-1 solution combines the best TMS system with advanced visibility capabilities and a robust multi-modal carrier network to keep your supply chain on track click here, or schedule a demo with one of our team of our experts today.