2020 will be the “most digital holiday shopping season on record” as predicted by Google. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., is traditionally the biggest shopping weekend — not just in the U.S., but also in Europe and the UK.
Cyber Week sales — being those in the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday — are expected to top 7 billion British pounds in the UK this year and 6 billion euros in Germany. Although slightly lower than 2019 sales, this could translate into millions of packages delivered over the holidays. Delivery fleets are already seeing soaring demand, accelerated by COVID-19, with many people hesitant to go out to shop “in person.”
How are retail and last-mile fleets impacted by Black Friday/Cyber Monday this year?
The Geotab Data & Analytics Team analyzed the real-world utilization of retail, transportation and logistics fleets in the EU, UK and U.S. during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. They compared the results against baseline trip activity from the previous four weeks (October 27 to November 23, 2020) in Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Canada, and the U.S.
Leveraging aggregated and anonymized data processed from more than 2 million Geotab connected vehicles globally, this analysis helps to depict trends in retail, as well as those industries impacted by Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, and visualize the impact on commercial fleet activity.
See also: The impact of COVID-19 on commercial transportation and trade activity
Black Friday and Cyber Monday overall fleet activity
Looking at the activity of Geotab-connected last-mile and retail-related fleets in North America, Europe, and the UK after Black Friday, you can see that the busy season has begun. There is an increase in the average number of daily trips per vehicle in several countries after Friday, November 27 that continued into the next week.
In Germany, on the day after Cyber Monday, there was a spike in the average number of trips per vehicle, 76% above the baseline. In Spain as well, there was an increase of 53% on December 1 and again on the next Tuesday, December 8.
In Canada and Italy, there was a less striking increase in fleet trips on the day after Cyber Monday, 2% and 19% higher respectively, while the U.S. was only at 98% of the baseline level.
We will follow the overall trips through the holiday season to see if the trend continues.
Country comparison of average number of trips per vehicle per day (Nov 24-Dec 9, 2020 versus baseline)
Germany: Average number of trips per vehicle per day (Nov 24-Dec 9, 2020 versus baseline)
Pre-Black Friday activity reveals calm before the storm
In the days leading up to Black Friday, fleet trip activity was more or less on par with the baseline across the countries analyzed, with the exception of the U.S. — where the number of active vehicles was one-third of normal on November 26 as residents observed the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have greatly impacted in-store retail operations. According to the latest Holiday Shopping Survey from Accenture, 61% of consumers said they plan to reduce in-store shopping this year due to health precautions. A shift to online shopping for Black Friday would mean that a bump in last-mile fleet activity could be seen later on in early December and beyond as shippers deliver ordered goods to homes.
More hours on the road, fewer miles in Italy
Over the weekend in Italy (November 28-29), there was an increase in the number of active hours on the road as compared to the baseline, paired with a decrease in the average miles driven per day. This type of fleet activity could indicate local delivery, as fleet vehicles start from a hub and make a number of quick, short distance drop-offs in and around a local area, rather than over-the-road or long haul, where a truck picks up freight and then drives hundreds of miles to the final destination.
Another decrease in activity occurred on the weekdays of December 6 and 7 due to public holidays in Italy.
Italy: Average active hours per day versus baseline
Italy: Average miles driven per day versus baseline
What does this mean for fleets?
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a dramatic increase in online shopping, which may become permanent change in shopping behavior globally.
Will the current online buyer trends drive last-mile to become smart-mile?
Connectivity, data and smart technology are critical for last-mile delivery fleets. Telematics can help fast-growing delivery companies cope with increasing demand. Integrated solutions for intelligent routing and contactless delivery help boost efficiency. As well, reports for tracking CO2 emissions and electric vehicle energy usage and charging can help companies meet corporate sustainability goals while easing pollution in cities.
Beyond economic indicators derived from last mile delivery and retail-related activity, Geotab is studying the environmental impact of these delivery vehicles and will be sharing ways to make last miles into smarter and greener miles, as our communities demand sustainable transportation alternatives.
Geotab will be issuing an updated analysis of last-mile and retail-related trends in January, including guidance on how many last mile vehicles could be transitioned to electric vehicles from internal combustion engine vehicles. As our online shopping and deliveries continue to increase, it is imperative that the fleet ecosystem accelerate their transition to EVs for a sustainable future.