holiday shopping

By Rieva Lesonsky

The gurus at eMarketer have released their US Holiday Shopping 2017 report. Here’s a sneak preview. Hint: It’s all about online.

Look for an increase in retail e-commerce sales. The eMarketer Pro report predicts online holiday sales will grow 16.6%, “driven by increases in mobile commerce and the intensifying online battle between large retailers and digital marketplaces.” Those are strong numbers, considering eMarketer says total retail sales will only increase 3.1% (due to “heavy holiday discounting” in November and December).

Overall, e-commerce will claim a record-setting 11.5% share of total retail sales during the holiday shopping season. In case you’re wondering exactly when that season is, it’s likely sooner than you think. EMarketer cites polls showing almost one-third of holiday gift buyers started shopping in October last year, and this year “even more shoppers will start [shopping] early.”

What’s driving the strong sales? The economy, for one, says eMarketer, including strong consumer confidence and low unemployment. Perhaps a bigger factor for the specific growth in online sales is the truly phenomenal rise in m-commerce (m is for mobile) in general and smartphone commerce, in particular, which is expected to jump 57.8% in all of 2017 (not just the holiday shopping season).

Consumer expectations are rising too. They want a seamless hybrid shopping experience between brick-and-mortar locations and e-commerce websites. If you own a store, they expect to be able to buy online and pick-up (and return) items in-store. In fact, 50% of them already do this.

The marketplaces (Amazon, eBay and Walmart) are expected to get the lion’s share of e-commerce sales, making it a smart move for you to start selling on Amazon and or eBay in addition to your existing outlets.