The National Retail Foundation (NRF) reports this year’s online holiday sales are expected to increase between 11% and 14% over last year, bringing in between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion — up more than $16 billion over 2018’s holiday e-commerce revenue in the U.S.
The NRF’s holiday predictions are a bit more generous than Adobe’s, which anticipates this holiday season will bring in $143 billion in online sales.
Since releasing its holiday forecasts in October, the NRF has published a consumer survey of more than 7,000 consumers that found 165 million people plan to shop during the busiest shopping week of the year — Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. Of those 165 million, 68.7 million said they will be going online to shop during Cyber Monday.
Younger shoppers lead the pack for Thanksgiving week shopping. Overall, 69% of the survey respondents said they plan to shop during the five-day stretch between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, but that number increases sharply when looking at younger consumers. For shoppers age 18- to 24-years-old, that number goes up to 88% — and up to 84% when looking at the 25 to 34 age group.
Any retailers and e-commerce brands focused on younger audiences should take this into account when planning their Black Friday/Cyber Monday strategIes.
Shopping in-store versus online. The NRF reports that there is almost an even split between consumers who plan to start their shopping in-store (47%) compared to those who will start their holiday shopping online (41%).
“Those under 25 are even more likely to say they expect to start shopping in-store,” said the NRF, with 52% of younger shoppers reporting they’ll start their shopping at a physical retail location. Even with more consumers starting their holiday shopping in-store, brands need to be thinking about their online promotions and email marketing leading up to next week’s shopping surge — building awareness now is a proactive way to capture shoppers both in-store and online.
A good deal is the biggest motivator. The NRF asked survey participants their top reasons for shopping during the holiday week. Sixty-five percent (the largest majority) said, “Deals were too good to pass up.” Other reasons for shopping Thanksgiving week included: it’s a tradition, something to do over the holiday week, or a group activity to do with friends and family (although none were as popular as the offer of a good deal).
Why we should care. This year’s holiday season is much shorter than usual, with six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Brands and e-commerce retailers that bank on the holiday season to make their annual numbers must enter the holidays armed with as much information as possible to plan a streamlined and succinct holiday strategy. Understanding consumer shopping patterns — and forecasted revenue — is key to implementing effective campaigns.