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How retailers are adjusting peak season inventory planning

Retailers want to ensure sell-through this holiday season.

A new survey reveals that retailers are actively preparing to turn over merchandise during the peak holiday season.

According to the “2023 Peak Season Prep” report from Ware2Go, a UPS company, while 73% of surveyed retail decision-makers expect higher holiday sales in 2023 than previous years, 93% say they have made significant adjustments to their peak season planning.

[Read more: Holiday shopping off to early start, according to survey]

The survey reveals respondents are focusing their efforts to move peak season inventory in several key areas:


More than eight in 10 (84%) respondents plan to create more robust promotional calendars, including features such as longer sales cycles (52%), steeper discounts (39%), and earlier promotions (28%). More than half of respondents intend to unveil new deal days, coupons, or promotions to drive holiday purchases.


Approximately two in five respondents plan to provide an economy shipping option for the 2023 holiday season. Almost all (95%) respondents have added at least one delivery option in response to growing consumer expectations for choices.

These options include free shipping (47%), free returns (39%),one-to-two-day delivery (37%), real-time tracking (37%), in-store pickup (36%) and the ability to choose delivery date (32%).

Customer engagement

Popular customer engagement strategies respondents plan to use this holiday season include loyalty rewards (59%); attracting new customers with first-time purchase discounts, fast and free shipping, or free gifts (57%); re-engaging dormant customers with new product features and personalized promotions (45%); and incentivizing earlier purchases with early limited-time offers (41%).

Changing inventory focus

Almost three in four respondents (73%) said they have higher inventory levels compared to 2022, with some respondents intending to offload old inventory (34%) and current inventory (33%).

“For many merchants, peak season accounts for 30% or more of their annual revenue; however, with industry uncertainty amid the 2023 peak season, merchants must implement a reactive sales strategy,” said Ware2Go CEO Steve Denton. “To counter the unknown, data and agility will be merchants’ greatest resources. While regular analysis of demand forecasting informs shifts in promotion strategies, merchants must ensure that their fulfillment partner is able to quickly pivot and successfully adapt to changes in sales volume. The 2023 peak season will be unlike any other, challenging the retail industry to remain dynamic in their approach across the season.”

The 2023 Peak Season Prep report is based on an August 2023 survey conducted by Dynata on behalf of Ware2Go, a UPS Company, of 1,000 decision makers at retailers with revenue from $1 million to $100 million.

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