Cyber Monday purchases impacted by inflation, delaying shipments

Chances are excellent you've spent part of this Cyber Monday online, shopping for a gift, or something for yourself. 

MORE: Cyber Monday deals lure in shoppers amid high inflation

Sales are expected to top $11 billion, this year, and you should be prepared for those purchases to take a little longer to arrive. For the longest time, we've been conditioned to expect free and fast shipping. 

However, the stubborn inflation that's made so many things more expensive, is also hitting retailers who are trying to balance keeping customers happy, with what they can reasonably accomplish. As some shoppers looked for Black Friday deals in person, online sales hit a record pace of more than $9 billion, before Cyber Monday even started. 

It's a wealth of packages that are now cued up for delivery. Now, retailers who, once, competed to see which of them could deliver the fastest are, increasingly, focused on a targeted range of dates. 

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University of Houston associate professor Margaret Kidd, who teaches supply-chain logistics, says the old model is not sustainable. The days of the fastest, cheapest delivery is now giving way to broader expectations. With an average delivery cost of $10, per package, all those sales are eating into retailer bottom lines, and they are scaling back. 

"I think that's a more realistic approach; that you can get an item in two to five days," says Kidd, "Consumers just need to be aware that if they really have a rush on a item, they will pay." 

Retailers are still trying to balance cost containment with keeping consumers happy. Despite longer delivery times, the opportunity to return unwanted items may become easier. 

While industry research shows returns cancel almost 17% of sales, retailers don't want to alienate potential customers and more are offering easier return policies. 


It's part of why Amazon accepts returns in its Whole Foods stores, which opens the possibility that some may even decide to shop there, as well. 

"They can gain consumer loyalty because the consumer will say, 'I want to deal with the company because their policy is more liberal to return'," says Houston marketing expert Paul Galvani.