Consumer rights

Will Santa’s gifts pass this Christmas? | Hogan Lovells

As the UK braces for its first post-Brexit Christmas, as COVID-19 intensifies in central Europe and demand for products has changed dramatically around the world, supply chain issues have threatened to spoil vacation plans. Last year, local, regional and national lockdowns kept millions of people at home and avoided traveling to see their families. This year, the picture is clearing up and many families are hoping to resume their usual vacation habits.

However, with constant reports of shipping delays and supply chain issues, the global shortage of workers, many buyers are inclined to plan ahead this holiday season, and the rest of us needs all the help they can get! Both groups will likely be receptive to marketing efforts early in the Christmas season, and even the Grinches among us might be grateful for an early reminder that Christmas is approaching this year.

While late and problematic deliveries can lead to consumer rights and breach of contract claims, the most acute risk for consumer businesses is loss of consumer loyalty and sales. So what should businesses do to prepare for the 2021 holiday season:

  • increase the amount of inventory held as the holidays approach to guard against supply chain delays causing stockouts and lost sales;

  • consider the availability of delivery options at times of high consumer demand, such as Black Friday (November 26, 2021) and Cyber ​​Monday (November 29, 2021);

  • provide incentives for consumers to buy early, including discounts on high-value baskets that can be shipped in a single package;

  • be transparent with consumers about delivery times and publicize the “last days” to get delivery on public holidays (with extended leeway to deal with the additional risk of delivery problems);

  • Define a strategy for delivery delays and keep customers informed of any changes in delivery times and expected setbacks;

  • use third-party ‘buy now, pay later’ services or implement other financing options to help consumers spread the cost of purchases in the pre-holiday period:

  • consider click and collect services or manage localized delivery in-house to avoid reliance on standard transport services; and

  • Ensure that leniency and flexibility are built into contracts with suppliers and delivery companies to allow for delays and driver capacity issues.

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