Summiting the Peak Season: Peak 2022 in Numbers

For e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers, the end of 2022 was something of a whirlwind. Looking back, retail performance defied expectations.

Despite the threat of a recessional peak, buyers showed no signs of hesitation when the time came for the busiest shopping season of the year, even if we may not see this trend continue into 2023.

Early forecasts suggested that peak spending would not meet the highs of previous years. Retail businesses were largely prepared to see a dip in sales – but as we can attest after the fact, this wasn’t the case.

In this article, we’ll take a look back at Peak 2022 now that we have a wealth of reliable data to examine. We’ll explore general industry trends as well as how the brands under ILG’s care fared during what was, in the end, a very strong Golden Quarter despite the economic uncertainty.

The Peak 2022 Story – What Does the Data Say?

The Black Friday and general peak season forecasts for 2022 told a story of reservation and hesitation for industry analysts and retailers alike. Some experts predicted negative sales growth of -5%, with a large portion of retailers likewise battening down the hatches for a downturn in YoY revenue growth.

However, online and brick-and-mortar retailers who stuck to their guns were rewarded in the end. According to Forbes, e-commerce businesses saw year-on-year sales growth of 2.3%. Other growth figures were even more flattering, citing growth of up to 5% during Black Friday alone. Shopify, the world’s largest e-commerce CMS, placed the UK in the top three countries for most online sales, alongside the USA and Canada.

This paints a cautiously optimistic picture as we venture further into 2023. The previously estimated downturn in customers’ readiness to buy has for now been disproven, with shoppers seemingly more ready than ever to spend with the brands they love. 

This extends beyond the domain of e-commerce as well. Any fears that online shopping could detract from traditional store sales were ill-founded, at least during recent peak periods. Black Friday 2022 saw a 9.3% increase in footfall to physical stores, likely due to a sustained departure from the more reclusive shopping habits commonplace during the COVID-era lockdowns.

Ahead of last year’s peak season, ILG predicted that brands that invested in their customer service and retention would reap the rewards of an uncertain peak period. We’re delighted to see that this was indeed the case for retail businesses as a whole.

What Peak Looked Like at ILG

As far as ILG and our valued customers are concerned, 2022’s peak season went above and beyond the average growth seen across the wider industry.

Many of our fulfilment customers saw a spike in orders during Q4 2022. Total orders fulfilled from our warehouses over Black Friday weekend increased by 12% year-on-year, with total items being shipped increasing by 126%. That represents a huge gain, particularly since the previous two years were huge for e-commerce. 

ILG’s Peak Retail Period 2022 (compared with 2021).

ILG Peak Retail Period Graph comparing 2021 to 2022

This peak success was aided in no small part by how prepared we were, despite forecasts and warnings that the peak season would be dulled by a shift in consumer intent. Forward planning is the key to a successful peak, and we’re delighted that this preparedness translated into success for our valued customers.

What can we take away from this data? Well, sometimes, rules (and forecasts) are made to be broken. Stick to your guns, invest in customer retention and let the rest speak for itself.

What Did Our Fulfilment Customers Say?

To really drive home this success, we had the following feedback from a couple of our customers who enjoyed a smooth peak season in 2022:

Dock and Bay

“We are known for our sustainable products, fun/unique customer service & supersonic fast deliveries. Finding a fulfilment centre that can uphold our reputation isn’t easy but ILG really is it! They treat every single order with a personal touch, and this has consistently given us enormous confidence over peak seasons. They are clearly leading the way in their field as they have been a massive support to the growth of our business!”

Head of Customer Service and Operations, Dock and Bay

Olivia Burton

“Our customers are our first priority during peak periods. In this, it’s great to have a fulfilment partner that pragmatically works with us throughout the ever-evolving workday, ensuring all of our customer orders go out the door in a timely manner.

ILG understand our business and they have the ability to adapt and react, whether by bringing a sale period forward or changing the promotional activity dates due to the current business climate.

Barring the postal strike action over the peak period, this has been our best operational period so far. ILG is always taking lessons learnt from the previous peak period to make required improvements moving forwards.”

Operations Manager, Olivia Burton

How Did Customer Service Fare in Peak 2022?

Customer service is a major part of the buyer’s (and brand’s) journey. Accounting for returns and customer satisfaction is essential when looking at sales growth. Across the industry, there was a higher number of returns on average during Q4 2022, as well as into January 2023 (often the busiest time for returns). Retail Voices reported a 57% YoY increase in UK returns between Black Friday and Christmas 2022.

Returns have become an increasingly large hurdle, especially as they become easier for the end-consumer to perform at their end. But, they are a major piece of the customer experience so ensuring you effectively navigate e-commerce returns is key, especially during peak times.

Stay a Step Ahead with Our Total Peak Fulfilment Support

If you’re reading this article and thinking, “This looks good, but that’s a lot of moving parts,” you’re not alone. If you want to make the most of your peak period – this year and in the years to come – working alongside a reliable fulfilment partner can be the true difference maker.

At ILG, we’re specialists in maximising peak success for our customers. Our peak hub has a wealth of information to get you on your way, including advice on planning for peak and how we can support your growth all year round.

Explore the hub today and get in touch with us to begin implementing the infrastructure you need for a truly successful Golden Quarter.

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