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Christmas: Where PEAKonomics meets SANTAnomics and ECOnomics

In his latest blog post IPP’s UK director Phil Storer measures the European waistlines and waste lines…

Black Friday is upon us and beyond that, we head straight into peak Christmas, the time for watching our figures – whether it be our expanding waistlines or waste lines, as stores and consumers count the cost of our over-indulgence in food and single-use plastics.

Once again our sustainable wooden pallets will deliver Christmas, equating to millions of items from turkeys with all the trimmings to festive snacks, beverages and beauty gift sets, as part of the more than £20 billion UK spend calculated by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD).

Delivering across Europe, our business, which coined the term ECOnomics to describe the business-critical process of sustainable delivery in the circular economy, has created two additional concepts: PEAKonomics and SANTAnomics to best describe business models as applied to the festive period.

SANTAnomics is a tongue-in-cheek view of seasonal logistics. According to various studies, Father Christmas will consume 150 billion calories in mince pies and milk while still managing to fit down 640 million chimneys to single-handedly deliver gifts for the 1.85 billion children on the planet in just 32 hours (allowing for the curvature of the planet and shift in time zones).

PEAKonomics is the reality check as retailers plan Christmas leading into distribution centre and store preparedness, as soon as Halloween has spookily cleared the shelves – or in many cases, even earlier.

As an international operator, we have analysed traditions and buying trends for European countries during different times in December and even early January, as is the case in Armenia.

While December 25th is celebrated in the UK, it is Christmas Eve that provides the day of feasting in many central European and Nordic regions.

But it is the night of December 6th – in just two short weeks’ time – that is observed by many northern and central European nations where St Nicholas and Krampuz replace Father Christmas and Rudolph in the handing out of gifts to children who have been good, and golden birches to those whose behaviour falls short of exemplary.

Whereas Brits celebrate with turkey, other festive delicacies such as fried carp or mushroom porridge may be in greater demand in many German-speaking territories.

The same differences emerge in our spending, according to some research which argues the Brits that spend the most on gifts, splashing out a massive €440 per person, followed by France and Luxembourg (€300). However, in terms of their personal indebtedness, it is the Romanians who topped the league because they dedicate more than a third of their December salaries to the celebrations, closely followed by the Czech Republic.

The lower-spending Belgians and Dutch only appeared to invest less in December 24th and 25th because they celebrate St Nicholas Day earlier in December.

The average number of Europeans in post-Christmas debt as a result of over-indulgence was nine per cent, but this figure was 20 per cent in Romania and 17 per cent in the UK.

This is last Christmas before we leave the EU, but I’m loathe to refer to it as Brexmas because underneath all the hubris, we all celebrate the season, wherever we are.

Christmas comes but once per year, but it is celebrated differently, which puts more diverse pressures on businesses across Europe.

What they do have in common is that spending during this period increases dramatically and in most cases, eclipses what we spend across the rest of the year. Our job is to proactively respond to the demand whether it be in the physical space or via the omni-channel and do it in an ECOnomical and sustainable way that minimises cost, carbon and waste.