’Tis the season for holiday retail sales predictions, and early reports indicate that e-commerce merchants have reason to be optimistic this year – but cautiously so.
One forecast from accounting firm Deloitte LLP states that online sales will see the largest increase from the 2009 holidays, but that overall holiday sales will experience a modest 2-percent rise. A separate survey from the E-tailing Group reported that 79 percent of merchants expect better sales this season than last, but only 31 percent expect the growth to exceed 10 percent.
The Deloitte forecast states that overall holiday sales will increase just 2-percent, but that non-store sales – an estimated two-thirds of which are online transactions – will enjoy a heftier 15-percent growth. The remaining one-third of the non-store sales include postal catalogs and television shopping shows.
Driving the increase in non-store shopping are overall convenience and the emergence of mobile commerce technologies, says the Deloitte report. Overall holiday sales increased 1-percent last year, so Deloitte’s prediction for 2010 shows modest growth on the retail horizon.
E-commerce merchants responding to the E-tailing survey were “cautiously optimistic” as a group (61 %), with the highest percentage of respondents (26 %) anticipating sales increases of between 6 and 10 percent. Other noteworthy responses from retailers in the E-tailing survey included the following:
• 91 percent will market through social networks this holiday season
• 85 percent will make some free shipping offers
• 38 percent have mobile initiatives in place for the holiday season (ranging from text message marketing to fully optimized mobile sites)
• 37 percent will market more aggressively on Facebook and Twitter this holiday season
• 1 percent say they plan to do less on Facebook or Twitter this season