Projected seasonal sales are improved compared to last year, as more consumers turn to e-commerce. A convenient and often more cost-effective option, the trend has encouraged consumers to be even more savvy when it comes to getting the best deal.

Holiday season spending is expected to increase for online retail this year


The digital economy can be optimistic for the coming months, as online sales have been projected to be better this year than in 2011. Forrester has predicted that 2012 online holiday season retail sales will grow in the US by 15 percent from last year. Elements that contribute to this growth are mobile devices, special promotions and “hot days,” and dedicated promotional emails. But the report cautions e-commerce proprietors to make special preparations for the season, especially to capture the “cross-channel, deal-hunting shopper” to maximize sales. Altogether, the sales are expected to reach $68.4 billion, in part thanks to many consumers choosing to shop on the Web rather than visit storefronts.

Comparative shoppers react well to perks

The trend for spending style is in deal-hunting, where consumers are prioritizing value, something that they associate with online retail. This complements the popularizing of purchasing perks that vendors have been offering – especially free shipping. Over half of respondents (57 percent) shop more with retailers that offer this perk, and 27 percent add items to their cart in order to meet the free shipping minimum purchase amount. More traditional influences have impacted consumer spending during the holiday season, even online. Peak shopping last year occurred during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and its online equivalent Cyber Monday. Over 170 million unique visitors spent $2.5 billion at the top 500 retail sites during this period.

The empowered deal-hunting shopper is impacting brands, online or otherwise

Per person, US shoppers will spend 12 percent more online during this holiday season than they did last year, a total of $419 each. But how do online merchants best capture the shopper that according to trends is becoming more ubiquitous, who searches out deals across digital and traditional channels? Following trends such as the increase of mobile web traffic share are critical - smartphones and tablets are projected to make up at least 40 percent of site traffic on major shopping days, but conversion rates are low. Big chains like Target and Best Buy are reacting to barcode-scanning shoppers with price-matching, so they don’t lose sales to competitive retailers like Amazon.

By Ivory King