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Celebrating with Cautious Optimism This Holiday Shopping Season

Back to basics

Online holiday season sales will reach $30.0 billion (excluding travel) in 2009, up 5.4% over 2008. Although this is tepid growth compared with the double-digit rates seen for most of this decade, it is a strong improvement over last year’s 5.7% decline and signals a brighter outlook.

Holiday shoppers will spend frugally again this year. To ensure they get their share of sales, Web retailers have been refocusing on the basics behind a good shopping experience as well as looking toward proven marketing tactics to drive traffic to their sites. This will help add up to better sales growth online than for retail as a whole.

“New online holiday buyers, incumbent online buyers who shift more of their purchases from stores to the Web, and the online buying power of higher-income consumers will fuel e-commerce sales growth,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Online Holiday Shopping Preview.”

Holiday season sales are defined as all sales in November or December. eMarketer predicts sales for all of Q4 will also be up this year, by 5%.

After three consecutive quarters of sales contractions, retail e-commerce sales turned a corner in Q3 2009 by growing 2.1%, according to the US Census Bureau. eMarketer expects that recovery to gain momentum.

In 2008 coupon sites were a big hit with thrifty holiday shoppers, and while some may have “frugality fatigue” this year, Americans are still more likely to plan on saving money than increasing spending. Retailers can attract them through tried-and-true tactics such as e-mail and paid search. And then they can win customers’ loyalty by focusing on Website usability, communications and channel presence.

“The path to maximizing online sales during the holiday season is less about trying new activities and more about improving ongoing activities,” said Mr. Grau.


The full report, “Online Holiday Shopping Preview” also answers these key questions:

  • What is the outlook for online holiday sales this year compared with recent years?
  • How has the recession changed online shopping behavior?
  • How are online retailers preparing for the challenges they face this holiday season?

To purchase the report, click here. Total Access subscribers, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other article, “Small Businesses Look to E-Mail and Social Media.”

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