E-commerce holiday sales could increase up to 20% to $96 billion this holiday season, according to comScore’s just-released estimates.

ComScore Inc. predicts that online shoppers will spend $95 billion to $96 billion at retail websites this holiday season, which the research firm defines as Nov. 1-Dec. 31.

This represents an 18% to 20% growth over last year, according to comScore’s e-commerce sales estimates of $80.2 billion in 2016 holiday sales.

Several factors will combine to produce that strong growth, says comScore’s Andrew Lipsman, senior vice president of marketing and insights. They include an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared with 2016, strong online sales so far this year, a healthy economy, low employment and a strong selection of “hot products” such as new smartphones and gaming systems on the market.

The forecast puts comScore at the higher end of growth projections for the 2017 holiday season in percentage terms, but roughly in the middle in terms of online dollars spent. Projections vary based on each research firm’s previous year’s sales estimates and how they define “the holiday season.”

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ComScore made several other holiday projections, including that Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving, will remain the No. 1 day for U.S. online sales and will generate $4.50 billion in e-commerce sales, up roughly 22% from $3.68 billion on Cyber Monday 2016.

Not all research firms, however, are convinced that Cyber Monday will retain its crown as e-commerce king this year.

E-commerce technology provider Salesforce.com Inc. predicts that U.S. e-commerce sales on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) will generate more online sales this year than Cyber Monday, however it did not specify a dollar figure. Last year, Black Friday e-commerce sales had a higher growth rate than Cyber Monday, as web sales on Black Friday increased 21.6% year over year compared with Cyber Monday’s 12.1% year-over-year increase, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

ComScore predicts there will be 38 $1 billion-plus desktop spending days this holiday shopping season, compared with 30 $1 billion-plus total e-commerce days in 2016 and 15 in 2015. The total number of $1 billion-plus spending days could be higher than 38 in 2017, as comScore only factored in desktop spending to its estimate and not smartphones and tablets.

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Mobile, which comScore defines as smartphones and tablets, this holiday season will drive $1 out of every $4 in e-commerce sales, Lipsman says. “Mobile will drive a majority of digital shopping traffic and have a meaningful contribution to growth rates,” he says.

ComScore also projects that internet-connected speakers, such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo device, will be among the hottest products this year. But smartphones remain the top consumer electronics product on shopper’s holiday wish lists In a survey of 2,272 consumers at the end of October, 19% said they will buy a smartphone this holiday season. Other consumer picks in electronic devices include:

  • Smart TV, 16%
  • Tablet, 15%
  • Smart speaker, 13%
  • Smartwatch, 12%
  • Smart home device, 12%
  • Augmented reality/virtual reality device, 11%

Lipsman also warns that retailers should offer free shipping this holiday season or risk losing sales. “If you are not offering [free shipping] you risk people abandoning their shopping carts,” he says.

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