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Holiday Ecommerce Sales Are Looking Up

More online buyers spend more money online

November 17, 2011 | Retail & Ecommerce

Consumers are expected to hold back on holiday spending this year because of rising food, gas and utility prices, as well as concerns about the economy. Several pre-holiday surveys confirmed shoppers’ intentions to spend either the same or less on purchases during the 2011 holiday vs. last year.

But the promise of convenience and cost-savings online will bring more consumers than ever to shop on the web for the holidays, spending a greater share of their gift budget there when they do. eMarketer estimates that US retail ecommerce holiday-season sales, which include all retail ecommerce sales during November and December, will rise 16.8% this year to $46.7 billion.

“This marks three years of strong online holiday sales and demonstrates the web’s ability to help consumers achieve their holiday gift buying goals in a weak economy,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Online Holiday Sales Forecast: Savings and Convenience Will Drive Strong Growth.” “Strong online holiday spending, in turn, will boost ecommerce sales to $195 billion for the year, up 16.5% over 2010.”

US Retail Ecommerce Holiday Season Sales, 2006-2011 (billions and % change)

As a result of strong growth, ecommerce’s share of total retail sales is gradually increasing, with the biggest gains taking place during the holiday season. Overall retail sales growth during the holiday season is expected to be lackluster compared to ecommerce: firms range between 2.5% and 3.5% in their growth estimates for total holiday retail sales this year.

Comparative Estimates: US Holiday Season Retail Sales Growth, 2011 (% change vs. prior year)

“Ecommerce is not immune to economic downturns, but it is more insulated than the overall retail industry,” said Grau. “Price-sensitive consumers view online shopping as a way to find better prices and reduce gas expenses. Many of them plan to increase their holiday purchases online. But even shoppers who intend to buy in-store after doing online research may ultimately purchase from retail sites that offers better deals.”

The full report, “Online Holiday Sales Forecast: Savings and Convenience Will Drive Strong Sales,” also answers these key questions:

  • What is the outlook for online holiday sales this year compared with recent years?
  • What are the mind-sets of consumers and retailers this holiday season?
  • Why will ecommerce sales grow at a higher rate than total retail sales?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.

Check out today’s other article, “Case Study: AT&T Empowers Employees for B2B Social Engagement.”



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