November 25, 2013, 9:38 AM

Holiday e-retail to jump 15% this year

Forrester says U.S. consumers will spend $78.7 billion online for the holidays.

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Holiday e-retail sales will hit $78.7 billion this year, up 15% from $68.4 billion last year, according to a projection released today by Forrester Research Inc. It defines the holiday shopping season as November and December.

“Strong economic growth and low unemployment rates project a healthy playing field for online holiday sales and outweigh any lingering dampening effect of the government shutdown,” says the Forrester report, authored by analysts Sucharita Mulpura and Douglas Roberge. “This strength is even more evident online than it is offline, as consumers continue to shift their spending to multiple digital devices from stores.”

Earlier this year, Shop.org, the e-commerce arm of the National Retail Federation, estimated that holiday sales could increase 13% to 15% year over year in 2013, reaching up to $82 billion in November and December. EMarketer, a market research firm, projects that U.S. holiday e-retail sales will increase 15.1% this year compared with 2012. Deloitte LLP predicts a 12.5% to 13% increase in U.S. non-store (primarily online) sales. 

Forrester says that 167 million consumers will go online this holiday shopping season and spend, on average, $472, up 12.7% from $419 last year.

Besides spending more, online shoppers this year will head to the web in search of deals, with 56% of shoppers saying they are more “price conscious” than they were last year. Consumers also will seek to avoid the hassle of shopping inside stores, also helping to boost the spending figures. 61% of U.S. consumers say they shop online because it is easier than going to stores, Forrester says.

Mobile also will play a significant role during the holiday shopping season, with 186 million U.S. consumers projected to own smartphones by the end of the holidays, and 87 million owning tablets. “In the 2013 holiday season, mobile’s biggest impact will be facilitating cross-channel experiences, as consumers are more likely to use mobile devices to research a product and read customer reviews than to actually make purchases on their devices,” the report says.

Forrester’s research also fixed the following factors that drive consumers to “consider buying from an online retailer that you have never bought from before”:

• Lower prices than other e-retailers, cited by 51% of consumers

• Lowest shipping costs or free shipping, 50%

• Offered the best deals, including via coupons and promotions, 42%

• Free returns by mail, 39%

• Was well-known and had a good reputation, 39%

Forrester based its findings on a variety of data, including a survey of 4,503 U.S. consumers conducted in July and the firm’s own ongoing e-commerce spending projections.

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