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Looking at Peak

“Peak.” With mountains, it’s the top. With athletes, it’s their best performance ever. For ecommerce and retail businesses, it’s your busiest time of the year, the so-called “golden quarter” that includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the gift-giving holidays.

And since Premier supplies packages for your business, it’s our busiest time too.

Boxes being manufacturedTypically, our manufacturing peak begins in September and runs through December. We’re about to enter an uptick in our manufacturing in early to mid-January, a period when many people return gifts they received during the holidays or use gift cards to buy more. During peak, our manufacturing production goes up 40% to 50%.

For the rest of the year, most of our production facilities across the country operate 16 to 24 hours a day, up to 5 days a week. During peak, some of our plant work extended hours on the weekends as well.

Boxes on conveyor belt.

Peak for the distribution side of Premier’s business usually starts in late October or early November, when product begins to ship to customers, and runs through roughly the week before Christmas.

Since Premier not only distributes what we manufacture but items we buy from other suppliers too, our distribution peak can get even busier than our manufacturing peak.  At some of our facilities, we move from a 5-day to a 7-day week and add extra personnel on each shift.

Traditionally, our peak business has been driven by retail sales in the fourth quarter, for the busy Christmas sales period. You’ve heard of Black Friday and Digital Monday; how about Peak Packaging Monday, when packaging suppliers like us see the most demand from customers? Peak Packaging Monday falls the week before Black Friday/Digital Monday, with businesses trying to make sure they will have sufficient packaging stock for the holidays.

As we all know, ecommerce blew up once the pandemic began, with almost everyone ordering almost everything online. In that crazy environment, peak almost became a year-round season.

That didn’t happen in 2022. Some experts believe inflation drove fears of a recession and caused people to dial back on their e-commerce purchasing. Others say, post-pandemic, people were comfortable returning to brick-and-mortar stores, which saw a rebound in sales, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

What happens in 2023 appears to be anyone’s guess at this point. Even so, you know you’re going to have a peak period of sales. It’s never too early to start preparing  for peak next year:

Trucks waiting in line

  • Compare your forecasts against your historical sales data and share that information with Premier. The more we know, the better we can plan and ensure you the best service possible during peak.

  • Let’s discuss your packaging. Could we right-size it to save you money on material and shipping costs? Could our automation experts help improve your packaging processes, particularly in today’s tight labor market? Do you need luxury packaging for your product, or more sustainable packaging? We can help with all that.

The more we know and plan together, the quicker we can conquer that peak.