With the peak trading season just around the corner, how prepared are retail supply chains for the spending event of the year?

The peak trading season is almost here, and retailers are busy making their final preparations. Black Friday caught some retailers off guard last year, and most will be keen to ensure they don’t get let down by any stage of the process.

For those working in retail supply chains, it can be very challenging to effectively plan for peak trading when events such as Black Friday make it increasingly unpredictable. Although many retailers will have been preparing for the event since last year, others will undoubtedly be less prepared, and have given less clear indications to their supply chains of what they are expecting.

And even when retailers have done meticulous planning, is it possible to effectively cope with such large spikes in delivery demand that Black Friday and Christmas cause?

Delivery company Hermes is not just increasing its delivery capabilities, but also promoting its network of ParcelShops, where consumers can collect packages at times that suit them.

The company is focusing on offering a range of fulfilment options, including offering consumers convenient solutions outside of business hours.

Courier firm Yodel is hiring almost 7,000 drivers as it gears up to deal with increased demand during the Christmas period. Yodel is creating 800 roles for directly employed drivers, but will also take on 3,000 owner-drivers and 3,000 self-employed couriers to collect and deliver smaller parcels. Many of the positions are likely to become permanent following the festive season.

The recruitment drive came after Yodel was forced to suspend collections from distribution hubs last December following an unprecedented surge in demand after Black Friday.

But delivery companies are still, to a certain extent, reliant on retailers to accurately forecast the demand they are expecting, and also be realistic when managing consumer expectations around peak delivery and fulfilment.

The question many in the supply chain will be asking is, have we done enough? But in this, as in so many other areas, only time will tell.