Retailers will see a modest rise in holiday sales in stores and online of 3.6% to 4% this year, according to Deloitte's annual retail holiday sales forecast.
The firm’s retail and distribution practice expects total holiday sales to exceed $1 trillion from November to January (excluding motor vehicles and gasoline), with a 17% to 19% increase in e-commerce sales, which will reach between $96 billion and $98 billion in that time, according to a press release.
Deloitte also said that digital interactions will influence 67% (or $661 billion) of holiday retail store sales, reflecting the amount of traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales influenced by shoppers' use of digital devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.
In some ways, Deloitte's holiday forecast is much like its predictions for the 2015 season, which also called for a 3.5% to 4% lift on sales. But this season will be markedly different if sales manage to sweep past the trillion dollar mark, and e-commerce sales follow predictions to double the increases Deloitte forecasted in the year-ago period.
E-commerce will be “the major disruptor this holiday season," Rod Sides, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader, said in a statement. He also noted that smaller retailers could take market share from larger ones, continuing a pattern.
"Retail competition will not only come from the big box down the street or major e-commerce players," Sides said. "It is also likely to come from the small and mid-sized retailers that focus on niche products and experiences. This group has been collectively taking share from large, traditional retailers to the tune of $200 billion in annual sales over the last five years. The retailers that compete on differentiated products and experiences should be well positioned to outperform other competitors during the holiday season."
Online, mobile activity and social media marketing are all expected to drive omnichannel sales this holiday season, Sides added. "The trend to watch is the way that online, mobile and store channels influence each other. Large e-commerce players and digital platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest are shaping what people think a great shopping experience is — a fast, highly curated assortment with access to visuals, information and buying sources. Since these bigger platforms are more connected to the customer, retailers should consider including them as part of their digital marketing campaigns this holiday season."
The presidential election could be a distraction from holiday shopping this year, especially early on, but gains in household income and consumer confidence will likely mitigate that, according to the report. Consumer confidence remains elevated despite some fluctuations in 2016, and consumers have been drawing down their savings, boosting spending despite muted income growth, said Deloitte senior U.S. economist Daniel Bachman.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2016 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page for more stories.