People Shopped Online Like Crazy Over The Holidays

This is probably the economic story of the season. Americans shopped online like crazy this year, and it overwhelmed the package delivery infrastructure.

From WSJ:

Companies from Inc. to Kohl’s Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., having promised to deliver items before Dec. 25, missed some delivery target dates. United Parcel Service Inc. determined late Tuesday that it wouldn’t deliver some goods in time for Christmas, as a spike in last-minute shopping overwhelmed its system. “The volume of air packages in the UPS system did exceed capacity as demand was much greater than our forecast,” a UPS spokeswoman said.

Although weather, Web glitches and late deliveries from manufacturers played a part in late deliveries, the sheer unanticipated volume of holiday buying this year may have been the biggest problem, retail analysts said.

Meanwhile, there have been several stories about physical retail having a rough season, with stores being forced to offer massive discounts to get folks in the door.

So it seems the big e-commerce boom is both an indicator of a strong economy and a sign that e-commerce is just clobbering physical shopping at a level that nobody anticipated.

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