From global supply chain disruptions to labor shortages, the past two holiday seasons have been particularly difficult for business planning.

To gain insight into how the pandemic is impacting holiday season preparations and other business expectations for this holiday season, DHL conducted a survey of U.S. SMEs.

Here are the key findings, compiled from the nearly 2,000 responses:

  • Supply chain challenges persist. When asked about expected business challenges this holiday season, 50% of respondents said supply chain delays were their biggest concern; 24% said staffing, 18% said rising inflation and 9% said international policies, such as Brexit and tariffs.
  • Large increases in e-commerce sales are expected. A large majority (61%) of respondents said they expect their holiday e-commerce sales to increase year-over-year (from the 2020 holiday season to the 2021 holiday season), with 39% expecting a significant increase.
  • The pandemic positively impacted 2020 holiday sales. Despite so much uncertainty in 2020, a majority (55%) of respondents reported that they had significantly or somewhat higher online sales during the 2020 holiday season than they had initially projected at the beginning of last year (prior to the pandemic).
  • Express shipping is top priority. When asked what is most important to their online customers during the holiday season, 49% of respondents said fast/on-time shipping. And when asked what they are prioritizing this holiday season, 41% said express shipping options.
  • Businesses want to avoid disruptions at all costs. All the SME respondents said they were willing to go to great lengths for a seamless and successful holiday season.
    • 44% said they would listen to Jingle Bells on repeat if it meant their business would have a seamless and successful holiday season
    • 23% would sleep in the snow
    • 18% would take an eggnog bath
    • 16% would be Scrooge’s roommate