Santa came late this year

As if any retailer needs more bad publicity around Christmastime, there was plenty of anectodal evidence that stores and websites failed to meet their promise of “by Christmas” delivery. There is plenty of fault to share — and plenty of fingerpointing going on — between the e-commerce sites and the carriers like UPS and FedEx. (And plenty of time to figure out what happened.) While most RetailWire panelists essentially felt that the problem was overblown, I am hearing it turning into a “social networking” problem and I see a bigger narrative at play:

Without getting too deep here, I think the stories of missed deliveries are part of a larger narrative about the failure of our institutions to execute well. Setting aside your point of view about our government, it’s hard to ignore the fact that some of the most trusted brands in America — UPS, FedEx, Amazon, Target and others — have shaken their customers’ faith in their ability to do their fundamental jobs. Whether it’s delivering a package as promised, or protecting your credit card data, this has been a tough couple of weeks — and not just for e-commerce.

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