Online retailers hit a snag as orders overwhelm FedEx and UPS, leading to gifts not delivered in time for Christmas. The snafu is the latest wrinkle in a holiday shopping season that is unlikely to beat forecasts. Bobbi Rebell reports.
REPORTER: As the final numbers for the 2013 holiday shopping season come in, online retailers - who had been so hot this holiday season - are finding themselves on the hot seat, catching heat from consumers after their packages did not arrive on time. And while there is a lot of finger-pointing at UPS and FedEx - who did fail to deliver - in the end it's the retailer whose customers got burned. The NPD Group's Marshal Cohen.
MARSHAL COHEN, CHIEF INDUSTRY ANALYST, THE NPD GROUP: "The retailers kind of brought this on themselves because there was so much push towards online purchasing for the convenience of it. So for example, we had free shipping day and then we had guaranteed 2-day delivery and some stores offered free shipping even just the last week just right before Christmas to try to entice consumers to take advantage of it."
REPORTER: Cohen says the fiasco created insecurity in shopping online - and could impact next year's shopping season. As for this year, it was … OK. Up 2.3 percent compared to a gain of less than one percent last year, but still disappointing versus many forecasts.
MARSHAL COHEN, CHIEF INDUSTRY ANALYST, THE NPD GROUP: "It's sluggish growth. The key to recognize is there were a couple of key factors this year and one really was we bored the consumer to death, and it was all about the deal. It was all about early hours and it was really all about not providing a lot of new and exciting merchandise to get the consumer to rush to want to shop or to even know what it was that they were going to give others as gifts."
REPORTER: He says opening on Thanksgiving Day didn't really help, it only pulled sales earlier, but that to stay competitive, retailers will be forced to embrace Thanksgiving sales as a new holiday tradition.
The first part of the report features four (!) idioms relating to heat.
1. If someone or something is described as hot, they are new, exciting and very popular. • The couple are Hollywood's hottest property.
2. If you are on the hot seat (or more usually in the hot seat), you are in a difficult position in which you are responsible for decisions and problems that may make many people angry.
3. If someone catches heat, they attract anger from others because of something they did.
4. If someone gets burned, they suffer the consequences when something goes wrong.