While overall spending forecasts for the looming season are mostly lukewarm, Forrester is predicting a handsome holiday for e-commerce, with sales expected to jump 16% to $52 billion.
The report, written by analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, says that consumers continue to shift more of their purchases online, with 37% of survey respondents planning to make an online purchase, up from 30% last year. And the Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm says that in November and December, online shoppers are likely to spend $338 this year, up from $303 in 2009.
As in the past, this year’s online shoppers are more likely to be well-heeled (87% of online shoppers with a household income of $100,000 or more say that they will spend the same or more online this year; just 13% say they will spend less.) Mulpuru also writes that more shoppers are beginning to experiment with mobile technology, with 18% in this survey planning to use their phones to compare prices, and another 16% planning to use them to find stores.
And the “free shipping wars” are likely to play a role. Walmart took off the gloves this week, announcing that it will offer free shipping for 60,000 items during the holiday, a move that is likely to pressure all e-tailers.
The study, which also polled leading online merchants, reports that sites are willing to spend to capture more of those sales, with 40 of the 64 executives surveyed saying they have increased their promotional budgets from last year. She also writes that key dates — such as Black Friday and CyberMonday — will take on more prominence in marketing, with a third of the execs saying “they will offer deep discounts only at peak times, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as at the last minute.”
Last month, tracking firm comScore issued its preliminary forecast, calling for a more modest growth in the holiday period of 7 to 9%.
Overall, holiday spending forecasts are certainly warmer than the prior year, but still not fuzzy: The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail spending — excluding online sales — to rise 2.3% to $447.1 billion (which compares with a gain of just 0.4% last year.) And BDO’s fifth-annual Retail Compass Survey of CMOs, which polls chief marketing officers at leading retailers, is calling for a sales increase of 2.83%.