Rising consumer confidence, rampant promotion and a favorable calendar will result in slightly higher growth in holiday online sales than in 2011, according to a new comScore forecast. The research firm projects U.S. e-commerce sales will grow 17% this holiday season to $43 billion, compared to a 15% gain last year during November and December.
The season is already off to a solid start, with online spending for the first 18 days of November up 16% to $10 billion, up 16% from the corresponding period a year ago. Thursday, November 8 has been the heaviest online spending day of the season to date at $829 million.
“Recent five-year highs in consumer confidence and early retailer promotions appear to be serving as wind in the sails for the beginning portion of the holiday season, with consumers opening up their wallets early and often,” stated comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.
Given that Black Friday, the unofficial start of the holiday buying blitz, falls two days earlier than in 2011, retailers benefit from an extended shopping season. A more optimistic outlook on the economy led consumer sentiment to its highest level in more than five years in early November. The index of consumer confidence from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan increased to 84.9% from 82.6%.
Not all forecasters are quite as upbeat as comScore about holiday sales. Shop.org, a unit of the National Retail Federation, last month projected e-commerce spending for the period to grow 12%, based on data collected from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. A separate forecast from Gartner released Wednesday also estimates online holiday sales will rise 12% this year.
Gartner also expects more than half (51%) of consumers will shop online during the holidays. A separate Consumer Reports survey showed a third (32%) of people interviewed plan to hit the stores on the Black Friday weekend and 34% intend to shop online. The same percentage plan to order online from the office on Cyber Monday (Nov. 26).
Among other holiday forecasts, JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth issued a report this week predicting e-commerce sales will increase 19% in the fourth quarter overall across the desktop and mobile. He also expects showrooming to be bigger than ever, with 37% of consumers browsing products in physical stores, but buying online or on mobile devices at lower prices.