Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 28th 2013 Contents A18
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, December 28, 2013
A Filipino trader blows a horn in front of the electronic board during the last day of trading this year at
the Philippine Stock Exchange in the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines yesterday.
The Philippine Stock Exchange index rose to a record high of 7,403.65. Despite falling to its lowest 2013
level of 5,562.13 in August, the main index managed to end the year with a gain of 1.3 per cent to close
yesterday at 5,889.83. AP PHOTO
Americans waited until the last
minute to buy holiday gifts, but retail-
ers weren t prepared for the spike.
Heavy spending in the final days of
the mostly lackluster season sent sales
up 3.5 per cent between November 1
and Tuesday, according to MasterCard
Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks
payments but doesn t give dollar figures.
Online shopping led the uptick, with
spending up 10 per cent to US$38. 91
billion between November 2 and Sun-
day, research firm comScore said.
"We always have last-minute Char-
lies, but this year even people who nor-
mally complete shopping earlier com-
pleted shopping later," said Marshal
Cohen, chief retail analyst at market
research firm NPD Group.
But the late surge caught companies
off guard. UPS and FedEx failed to
deliver some packages by Christmas
due to a combination of poor weather
and overloaded systems, leaving some
unhappy holiday shoppers.
Justin Londagin and his wife ordered
their 7-year-old son a jersey of Russell
Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks from
NFL s Web site on December 19. They
paid US$12.95 extra for two-day ship-
ping to get it to their Augusta, Kansas,
home before Christmas, but it didn t
arrive in time.
"We had to get creative and wrote
him a note from Santa to tell him that
the jersey fell out of the sleigh and
Santa will get it to him as soon as he
could," he said.
Amazon is offering customers with
delayed shipments a refund on their
shipping charges and US$20 toward a
future purchase. And other retailers
such as Macy s said they are still looking
into the situation.
The last-minute surge this year solid-
ifies the increasing popularity of online
shopping, which accounts for about 10
per cent of sales during the last three
months of the year. But it also under-
scores the challenges that companies
face delivering on the experience, par-
ticularly during the holiday shopping
season that runs from the beginning
of November through December.
Analysts say FedEx and UPS typically
work closely with big retailers, trying
to get a sense of what the volume of
packages will be during peak times like
the holiday season. Extra flights, trucks
and seasonal workers can be added if
the projections are large.
But this year, David Vernon, a senior
research analyst at Sanford C Bernstein,
said weather played a role. The early
December ice storms in Dallas could
have hurt operations, he said, and pack-
ages can start to accumulate. And that
got compounded this year by a late
surge in shipments, he said.
"Clearly, as a group, (they) under-
estimated the demand for Internet
retailing during the holidays," Vernon
Another problem was the growing
popularity of retailers offering free ship-
ping. Amazon, for one, has a two-day
free shipping offer that comes with its
US$79 annual Prime membership. The
company said, just in the third week
of December, more than 1 million people
signed up for the membership.
"Frankly the right hand wasn t talking
to the left," said Forrester analyst
Sucharita Mulpuru. "The marketing
teams of a lot of web retailers (offering
free shipping) were not talking to the
operations and supply chain teams."
The delayed shipments could be a
problem for shippers: "It is a major
problem for UPS and FedEx. The central
pillar of their business is a perception
of reliability with their customers," said
Jeremy Robinson-Leon, COO of Group
Gordon, a corporate and crisis PR firm.
This year s snafus "just really erodes
trust among customers."
Still, some analysts say people will
still buy online. "Consumers tend to
have a short memory, especially if you
fast forward to another year," said
Andrew Lipsman, vice president of
industry analysis for comScore.
grows, with some
In this December 2 file photo, an Amazon.com employee stocks a shelf at an
Amazon.com Fulfillment Center on "Cyber Monday." Shoppers waited until the
last possible minute to buy presents this year, even online. The late surge sent
holiday retail sales up 3.5 per cent, which ultimately was good news for retailers
but caught shippers UPS and FedEx unprepared. AP PHOTO
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