September 21, 2010, 11:16 AM

E-retailers are cautiously optimistic about the holiday season

79% expect sales to increase, but nearly half expect no more than 10% growth.

Lead Photo

Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group.

Most online retailers expect they will sell more this holiday season than last, but only 31% project growth of more than 10%, according to a survey of more than 250 e-retailers by market research and consulting firm The E-tailing Group.

“Respondents confirm that e-tailers have a cautious yet positive mindset and are prepared to meet the challenges ahead,” says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group.

The survey, released today, found:



• 61% of e-retailers surveyed describe themselves as cautiously optimistic about the upcoming holiday season, and 18% say they are optimistic. 9% are somewhat pessimistic and 2% pessimistic, with the remaining 10% characterized as unchanged in their expectations.

• 79% expect their sales to grow, but most of them project growth of no more than 10%. Here’s the breakdown of the 79% who expect higher sales:  1-5%, 22%; 6-10% 26%; 11-20%, 17%; 21-30%, 8%; 31% or more, 6%. 12% expect sales to be flat and 9% believe sales will decline relative to the 2009 season.

• 85% will make some free shipping offers this holiday season. Here’s the breakdown: unconditional free shipping the entire season, 13%; unconditional free shipping at times during the season, 26%; free shipping on certain products throughout the season, 27%; free shipping on certain products at times during the season, 19%.

• 38% have mobile initiatives planned for the season, breaking down as follows: mobile site with shopping cart, 25%; will text message about sales or specials, 8%; information-only mobile site, such as one offering ratings and reviews, 8%; mobile app only, 6%. Retailers could have multiple responses in this category.

• 91% of retailers responding will market through social networks this holiday season. 37% will market more aggressively than they did in 2009 through both Facebook and Twitter; 14% have more extensive plans, focusing on Facebook; 17% will do more and focus on Facebook, including integrating the “Like” button into their sites; 9% plan about the same amount of social marketing, with a focus on Facebook; and 13% will maintain their social marketing efforts, and have plans for both Facebook and Twitter. 1% say they plan to do less on Facebook or Twitter, and 9% have no social strategies in place.

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