Predicting market-based patterns in (freight) shipping for supply chains shoppingis a bit like forecasting the weather. We can’t anticipate every last detail accurately all the time because surprise fluctuations can always cause unexpected results. However, we have a pretty good handle on the flow of the supply and demand of the seasons, including when peak shipping season comes and goes.
When is Peak Shipping Season?
In the logistics industry, January through March is described as the quiet season or the off-season, during which not that much happens as consumers recover from their holiday shopping splurges and infrastructures are less friendly due to cold and possibly snowy weather in many places.
Spring, April through July, mark the so-called produce season. The transportation industry really picks up during this time, and profits rise, especially in places like Texas and Florida. The transportation of perishable goods will keep companies on their toes, but it’s not as crazy as it’s going to get.
Holiday Season Shipping
By the end of the year, November and December mark transportation’s shortest season — holiday season, a crazy environment during which consumers and retailers alike scramble for last-minute orders. During this busiest time of the year, logistics companies work hard and long hours to wrap the year up successfully. There will also, of course, be plenty of consumers returning unwanted goods, something that plays an increasing role in the freight industry with the rise of e-commerce.
That leaves peak shipping season, August through October
Peak shipping season doesn’t start at the exact same time each year, but it generally runs from some time in August all the way until the end of October. A lot is happening during these months, in the run-up to the dates around which retailers and private individuals alike tend to plan their whole year.
To clarify, the shopping season starts with “back to school”, followed by a slew of holidays, from Halloween to Thanksgiving and from Christmas and the New Year’s celebration. Consumers, wanting to be well-prepared, start splurging well ahead of the actual dates.
Peak Season Shipping
During peak season, freight companies will have their hands full, and prices will rise as demand easily overtakes supply. Transportation companies will be able to pick and choose their customers, while retailers may struggle to get all their shipping needs met. The very busiest freight season is one that leaves deliveries at a higher risk of damage and theft as well as loss.
If retailers plan ahead, they might be able to avoid this rush hour and get their peak season goods delivered before August hits. This advance planning can itself trigger peak shipping season to come around earlier in the year if enough companies do the same.
Localized Holiday Mini Peaks
Certain regions of the world will have their own “mini peaks” during more localized holidays, like the Chinese New Year, and factors like economics, politics, and more recently of course a pandemic, will also influence the timing and duration of peak freight season. Likewise, some sectors will have industry-specific peaks.
The shipping industry is an always evolving one that ebbs and flows with the global economy and is rather susceptible to global changes. Following them will allow you to plan ahead, whoever you are.
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