Despite today’s supply chain challenges and broader economic issues, most small- and mid-sized businesses are optimistic about their expectations for the upcoming holiday peak season, according to a recent report from shipping and logistics services provider DHL.
The company’s 2023 Holiday Survey polled more than 800 business leaders at small- and mid-sized companies to gauge their outlook for the upcoming peak shipping season. Most are optimistic about this year’s holiday peak—citing anticipated strong online shopping in particular—but they caution that supply chain disruptions and inflation remain key concerns.
“... From the lasting impacts of the pandemic, such as global supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, to inflation and changes in consumer demands, U.S. businesses have had to adapt to and navigate the changing landscape throughout the year and especially during the holidays,” DHL said in a statement announcing the survey’s findings. “This year, while inflation and supply chain concerns remain, the 2023 holiday season outlook is a bit more ‘merry and bright’ as SMEs anticipate strong online shopping and e-commerce activity.”
Indeed, about 70% of survey respondents said they think their business’ online holiday sales will either increase (38%) or match (31%) last year’s sales. Respondents also said they will prioritize global expansion to ensure a successful peak, noting that they plan to expand with both international customers and business partners. A quarter of respondents said they’ll prioritize those efforts this year, citing optimism about expanding to new markets and collaborating with international suppliers, in particular.
The survey also found that early preparation may be the key to a successful peak shipping season: When asked about holiday supply chain prep, more than a third of respondents said they began planning in the second quarter of this year or earlier—and 30% said they started planning even earlier than they did in 2022.
Of the challenges they expect to face, respondents listed supply chain delays as the biggest issue—33% said so—followed by inflation, at 24%. Concerns about both issues have eased compared to last year, however, dropping by 13% and 11%, respectively.
“Overall, the survey findings suggest that while challenges persist, a majority of SMEs are optimistic about the holiday season and the global trade market going into 2024,” according to DHL.