October 21, 2010, 4:20 PM

Another day, another optimistic holiday forecast for online retailers

Most retailers expect to sell at least 15% more this year than last, Shop.org says.

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Pinch yourself if you’ve heard this before: The upcoming holiday season could make online retailers as joyful as Santa when he spies a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

The latest optimistic holiday forecast comes from Shop.org, the online retailing division of the National Retailer Federation. In a report released today, Shop.org says that nearly 64% of retailers expect their online sales to increase by at least 15% compared with last year’s holiday shopping season.  Last year, only 46% of retailers said the same.

“Retailers continue to see the web as a bright spot in the industry and are putting finishing touches on new site features so their customers will have good experiences when shopping online this holiday season,” says Fiona Swerdlow, Shop.org’s head of research.

Shop.org based its findings on a survey conducted between Sept. 1 and Sept. 27 of 51 online retailers. BIGresearch conducted that survey, along with a companion survey between Sept. 19 and Oct. 4 of 2,583 consumers.

The consumer survey found that 35.1% shop online because of the channel’s 24-hour availability, while 33.1% like the easy price comparisons and 30.8% prefer not to fight crowds at bricks-and-mortar stores. Meanwhile, the merchant survey results suggest that online retailers are trying to increase their holiday sales by investing in their companies’ Facebook pages (72.5%), beefing up cross-selling efforts on product pages (54.9%), improving site search (54.9%) and offering more customer ratings and reviews (52.9%). Additionally, 43.1% of online retailers report they have invested in a Twitter campaign or Twitter feed to help boost holiday sales.

Consumers this holiday season also should see ample free shipping offers, as more than 80% of online retailers plan to offer the promotion. More than a third of retailers say their budgets for free shipping have increased from last year’s holiday season.

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