Introducing the first-of-its-kind research report, the 2018 Online Peak Seasons Report. The new 71-report analyzes the U.S.’s five largest online shopping holidays.

Five holidays, from Halloween 2017 through back-to-school 2018, accounted for more than $136.69 billion in online sales, Internet Retailer estimates.

A holiday gives a consumer a reason to shop, whether it is for a gift, décor or a tradition that the holiday is not complete without. The just-released 2018 Internet Retailer Online Peak Seasons Report analyzes e-commerce’s share in five peak seasons—Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, back-to-school season, Halloween and the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays.

E-retailers who aren’t already developing their 2019 merchandising plans around these five peak online selling seasons may be missing their best growth opportunities in the coming year. These five holiday periods combined accounted for an Internet Retailer-estimated $806.31 billion in total retail sales from Halloween 2017 through back-to-school season 2018, and e-commerce accounted for 17% of these sales, or $136.69 billion. This 17% is higher than e-commerce’s usual share of total retail sales, which Internet Retailer estimates was 13% of total retail sales in 2017. The report can be a guide for merchants to maximize sales during these periods, as it reveals key shopper trend data, including conversion rates and traffic, for each holiday and explains the online selling nuances for each. For example, nearly 70% of online spend on Mother’s Day occurs just one week before the holiday, while the back-to-school online shopping season lasts for more than two months.

A shadow looming over each holiday, however, is Inc. (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500) and other mass merchants. As a specialized retailer in a niche category, no merchant wants to give up share in their peak season to a giant that continually eats everyone’s lunch. For example, during the 2017 Christmas holiday season, Amazon accounted for roughly 37.5% of total online retail sales from U.S. Nov. 1-Dec. 31 and was by far the retailer that generated the most sales online during this time period, according to Rakuten Intelligence, which bases its estimates on email receipts from more than 5 million consumers.


The good news is that Amazon is not a heavyweight for all the holidays, and retailers can take advantage of their expertise and holiday category know-how to guard their sales. The report digs into Amazon’s role in each holiday, such as why the retail giant is such a large player during Halloween but not for Valentine’s Day.

The 71-page 2018 Online Peak Seasons Report includes:

  • E-commerce sales estimates for each holiday 
  • Total retail sales estimates for each holiday
  • Winning email and search marketing strategies for each holiday
  • Traffic and conversion rate trends around each peak selling season
  • Amazon and other large mass merchants’ impact on each holiday season
  • Shopper spending patterns as each holiday approaches
  • 30+ charts showing key peak season trends

The 2018 Online Peak Seasons Report is available to Digital Commerce 360 Gold and Platinum members as part of their paid memberships. Single-copy sales are available for $249.