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This year’s holiday retail season is expected to be strong in the US. eMarketer forecasts that US retail sales in the months of November and December 2015 will increase 5.7% year over year, reaching $885.70 billion. That’s an upward adjustment from the 3.2% growth rate predicted earlier this year—and the highest since the 6.3% rise in 2011.
“Retail sales in November and December 2015 are expected to show a healthy increase over what was experienced during the same period in 2014. This expectation is driven primarily by the fact that gas station sales, which make up roughly 12% of overall retail sales, dropped rather dramatically in late 2014. Increases in real income from wages, further decreases in unemployment and an increased willingness to spend in traditional retail categories that missed out on the windfall in gas prices earlier on in the year should also drive growth," said eMarketer analyst Monica Peart.
While US retail ecommerce holiday season sales growth will dip slightly this year to 13.9%, vs. 14.4% in 2014, the segment will play an increasingly important role this season. eMarketer estimates that ecommerce will hit 9.0% of total retail sales this season, or $79.40 billion, up from 8.3% share last year.
Mobile will play a part in ecommerce growth this holiday season. eMarketer expects US retail mcommerce sales to rise 32.2% in full-year 2015—more than double the 14.2% increase forecast for retail ecommerce sales as a whole. The biggest growth will come in smartphone retail mcommerce sales as consumers become more comfortable buying on their phones—which, on average, have larger screens than those released just a few years ago. We estimate that by the end of 2016, 25.0% of all retail ecommerce sales in the US will take place via mobile devices.
“As US consumers become more comfortable with conducting a litany of activities with their smartphones, fewer people are putting down the phone to make a purchase using another device. Consumers are opting to complete their transaction with the same device they began the shopping journey with, and that is increasingly with a smartphone,” said Peart.
This holiday season will be the first real test of a new wave of social commerce. Over the past year, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have all introduced “buy” or “shop now” buttons that significantly ease the process of purchasing from these sites, especially on mobile devices.
Because Facebook and Pinterest are the social networks responsible for the most referrals to retailer websites, according to Q2 2015 figures from Merkle | RKG, retailers and others are the most interested in their buy button offerings. Both of the social networks store credit card information and let people purchase a particular item in a few clicks within the platform. Neither platform takes a cut from the purchase. They’re adding these buttons to make on-site conversions easier and more trackable, which will in turn make their advertising more valuable to retailers.
eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.
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