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eCommerce managers a bit optimistic about Holiday sales

September 12, 2011

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Based on various ecommerce spending trends observed so far in 2011, eCommerce merchants and eTailers are a bit optimistic, always dependent on the unpredictable economic recovery to meet their numbers in the year's most important period to make sales: the Holidays.

“Overall, price-conscious consumers will shift more of their gift spending budget from stores to the Web in order to take advantage of specific features that make it easy to compare prices and find good deals on the Internet,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst.

Despite a very unstable global economy that still remains sluggish at best, online sales have shown some growth in the months leading up to the holiday shopping season. As of July 2011, MasterCard Advisors’ Spending Pulse report estimates that online retail sales this year could see a growth of about 12 to 14 percent year-over-year from all payment forms, not just the company’s own credit card system.

comScore’s 2011 retail ecommerce sales estimate for the second quarter was more conservative than MasterCard’s but still reported growth at about 14 percent, up from 12 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Based on some research and interviews conducted with a variety of industry experts in the past two months, eMarketer expects online holiday sales to be on par with or surpass last year’s results. That would mean growth of at least 12 percent this year, according to comScore’s historical data.

The research company reported that online spending grew 12 percent on volume of $32.8 billion for the 2010 holiday season, which it defines as the months of November and December.

“First-half ecommerce sales estimates for 2011 are strong as a whole, and industry experts have some reasons to be optimistic about this year's online holiday shopping season. However, the volatile global economy could cause consumers to cut back on spending this year, but it's just too early for us to know for sure at this time,” said Grau.

“Affluent consumers, who account for a high share of online sales, spend freely when their stock portfolios are healthy. But market downturns have historically undermined their sense of financial security, causing them to pull back on discretionary spending,” added Grau.

eTailers must be prepared to adjust their merchandising and promotional strategies for various consumer-demand scenarios.

Available on its website, eMarketer's full report, “Online Holiday Shopping Preview: What Retailers Need to Know” also answers these key questions:

  • What is the outlook for the 2011 online holiday shopping season?
  • How will budget-minded consumers shop online to find the best deals?
  • What effect will mobile and social have on holiday shopping?
  • What can marketers still do to help ensure a successful holiday season?
  • Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how close (or how far) these estimates are when we will look at the actual post-Holiday eCommerce sale numbers when they will be available sometime in January 2012.

    Source: eMarketer.

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