U.S. shoppers will spend $119.99 billion with online retailers during the upcoming holiday shopping season of Nov. 1-Dec. 31, Internet Retailer’s analysis shows. That’s a 15.5% increase compared with the Internet Retailer-estimated $103.88 billion spent online during the same period in 2017.
Several factors contribute to a record-high e-commerce holiday period. For one, online holiday sales growth of 15.5% is in line with the overall U.S. e-commerce industry’s growth over the last six quarters. In fact, the 15.5% growth is slightly conservative, as U.S. e-commerce sales grew 15.7% during the first half of 2018 year over year, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures.
Second, U.S. consumer confidence is at the highest level it has been in 18 years. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which is based on a survey that measures consumer sentiment on current economic conditions and prospects for the next six months, hit 133.4 in August. This is the highest level since October 2000 and 11% higher than the August 2017 reading.
“Overall, these historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending in the near-term,” says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at business research group The Conference Board.
Third, more consumers are buying gifts online each year. For instance, 76% of U.S. shoppers said they purchased at least 25% of their gifts online in the last holiday shopping season (November to December), according to a March 2018 Internet Retailer and Bizrate Insights survey. In the same survey conducted in March 2017, 73% said they purchased at least 25% of gifts online.
Total retail sales, excluding items not normally purchased online like fuel and automobiles, will jump 5.5% to $719.09 billion, up from $681.61 billion in November and December last year, according to Internet Retailer’s holiday projections. That suggests e-commerce will represent 16.7% of all holiday spending, compared with 15.2% in 2017.
This 16.7% is higher than e-commerce’s usual share of total retail sales, which Internet Retailer estimates was 13% of total retail sales for all of 2017. This makes sense as gift givers may want to browse different sites to look for ideas or deals. In addition, online retailers increase digital marketing during peak season shopping periods, often leading to more sales online.
For its holiday projections, Internet Retailer Research analyzed sales and growth in U.S. e-commerce and total retail over the last several years, identifying trends in consumer spending habits during peak shopping periods. It also examined large online retailers’ growth patterns leading up to the holidays, historical e-commerce penetration of the overall retail industry and its trajectory, as well as economic indicators, such as U.S. consumer sentiment.