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Ho Ho Hum: Holiday Cheer or Fear this Year?

Survey Reveals Frustrations with Supply Chain Challenges

Procurement and supply chain professionals have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the holiday season brings a whole new set of challenges. As businesses find themsleves in the midst of what is traditionally one of the busiest and often most profitable time of year, the results of a recent study provide a glimpse into the holiday shopping season and reveal key frustrations with supply chain issues faced during the global pandemic. The study reveals only 35% of consumers are satisfied or impressed with companies’ supply chain management throughout the pandemic, and 43% are frustrated with shortages.

Faced with ongoing economic uncertainty, many businesses are looking at the holiday season as a means to increase sales and close out the year with stronger revenues. The study demonstrates, however, that the increased holiday sales businesses have typically relied on are far from guaranteed – with 43% of consumers planning to decrease holiday spending by 25-50%. With such unpredictability, supply chain professionals must be prepared with strategies and technologies for just about any possibility. They must be agile enough to ramp up production during surges in demand and dial back if sales are lagging due to shifting spending habits to avoid production surplus.

As Supply Chain Challenges Continue, So Do Customer Frustrations

Due to unforeseen supply chain disruption, many consumers faced unexpected delays or order cancellations. While 77% of respondents experienced out-of-stock necessity items during the pandemic, 42% experienced price gouging and 44% experienced longer shipping times. During the holidays, the stakes are even higher – as shoppers rely on items being in stock and on time to give gifts to loved ones or plan holiday gatherings. Procurement and supply chain professionals need to ensure they have alternate sources of supply ready to go on a moment’s notice to avoid production delays. This requires constant, accurate visibility into operations.

Holiday Plans Look Different in 2020

It’s not just how much consumers will spend this holiday season that’s been impacted by the pandemic, it’s how they are spending and celebrating. Although the shift to online shopping has been bubbling up for some years now, we see an even more dramatic increase in online shopping this holiday season. In fact, 38% of respondents said they planned to switch to buying online this year, 14% planned to buy earlier than normal (to avoid shipping delays) and 5% said they planned to avoid big box retailers altogether. The study also reveals 29% of respondents planned to cancel holiday gatherings, while 22% planned to host or attend smaller gatherings, and 11% planned on virtual gatherings. And while the holidays may look different this year, consumer expectations are not.

Preparation is Key for B2B Companies

For businesses of all sizes and across industries, the COVID-19 crisis brought unprecedented levels of disruption. The unpredictability of the supply chain has been especially challenging for B2B companies, as they manage various global trading partners. Just as consumers dealt with delays and shortages, so did B2B brands – where the stakes are often much higher. Losing a customer in the B2B realm has severe consequences, as the loss of large deal sizes and longstanding contracts can have a devastating impact on the bottom line. To ensure customers remain happy, B2B companies need digital procurement and supply chain management solutions that give them the flexibility and agility to keep up with demand regardless of what the next disruption is.

SAP, with support from Dynata, surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers in October 2020. To learn more about procurement solutions from SAP, please visit:

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