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5 insights for retail from our Peak Pulse Survey

September 29, 2020

This year is turning out to be a challenging one for all businesses and peak is no exception.

Because of COVID-19, the 2020 peak season is shaping up to be much different than it’s ever been. Businesses are having to shift to meet changing consumer demands, while ensuring the safety of their staff.

As leading providers in the staffing space, we conducted a study to get an understanding of current pressures and how businesses are navigating peak this year.

For retailers, peak season 2020 will most likely turn out to be an interesting one. Here are 5 insights for retailers from our survey.

1. Retailers expect changes in sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

According to our survey, 81% of respondents don’t think they will see an increase in sales for Black Friday this year and 78% don’t think they will see in an increase for Cyber Monday. Many operations count on these high sales days to make their numbers. If this ends up proving true, it could have a huge impact on business success for the year.

2. Changes in product demand

It’s no surprise that retailers have reported large changes in demand during COVID-19 and expect those changes to last through peak season. 1 in 2 respondents reported an uptick in demand for non-essential products in Q3 compared to Q2. Most of those who have experienced an uptick in demand expect demand to either increase or stay the same through peak.

3. Staffing cutbacks impacted operations

Many operations were forced to cut back on staff due to the pandemic. While our survey showed that many businesses are hiring staff back, we asked which departments suffered the most cutbacks.

We asked those which positions were eliminated because of the pandemic. Here is a breakdown of those roles:

  • 40% Assemblers
  • 33% Material handlers
  • 31% Shipping & receiving workers
  • 25% Fabricators
  • 22% Forklift drivers
  • 22% Pick/pack workers
  • 13% Returns/reverse logistics workers

Even though companies are looking to hire back these roles, our survey also showed that hiring has become increasingly challenging.

4. Hiring is becoming even more difficult

Hiring for peak season is often tough because of the sheer number of extra people needed to ramp up. But this season will most likely prove even more demanding than previous seasons. According to our survey, 61% of employers are having a hard time finding workers despite the high unemployment rate. The biggest obstacles to filling roles have been workers wanting to extend unemployment benefits, high volumes of unqualified applicants, a high volume of candidates not showing up to interviews and a general fear of going back to work.

5. Evaluating for improvement

Retailers were asked how they begin preparing for peak. More than half stated they evaluate their processes or analyze their budget and costs. Others said they hire contingent workers, heighten safety protocols or hire full-time seasonal workers.

If you are struggling to find peak workers or want to make your process more efficient, consider partnering with a trusted staffing partner like SIMOS. Not only can we provide the staff you need to have a successful peak season, but we can also help you increase your output while cutting costs.

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