Holiday e-commerce sales this year (in November and December) are expected to rise 14.8% over last year to reach $124.1 billion, according to a forecast from Adobe. Nearly one dollar of every six spent on retail purchases will take place online this year, according to the report.
The new record is set to be the latest in steady increases in holiday shopping online since 2016, and continues to outpace overall holiday sales growth of 4.5%, according to the report. That will be boosted in part by voice-assisted shopping, with Adobe expecting 21% of consumers to reorder frequently-purchased items and 17% to make one-time purchases for pickup using voice-activated devices.
Cyber Monday is slated to become "the largest- and fastest-growing online shopping day of the year," rising 17.6% to $7.7 billion, according to the report. Online sales on Thanksgiving are expected to rise by 16.5%, reaching $3.3 billion, Adobe said. The whole weekend remains important, though, with nearly one out of five dollars expected to be spent between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, generating $23.4 billion or 19% of total online sales.
Retailers are set to benefit from their own efforts to boost their online channels and omnichannel services as holiday shoppers increasingly turn to the web to get much of their lists taken care of.
"As online shopping surges with another record-breaking holiday season, the retailers with compelling websites coupled with physical store locations will have the advantage," John Copeland, head of marketing and customer insights at Adobe, said in a statement. "Many shoppers want to interact with retailers' products and the brand in-store, and the ability to pick up online orders in-store within a matter of hours can’t be underestimated."
Different demographics have different reasons for shopping online, according to a report from Berkeley Research Group emailed to Retail Dive. Older shoppers are more likely than 25- to 34-year-olds to say that free shipping options, crowd avoidance and ease in finding items send them to the web, while millennials were moved by price and the ability to compare items and read reviews, according to that report.
Along with voice shopping, mobile holiday sales will also rise 11.6%, although sub-optimal checkout drives a lot of cart abandonment, so that mobile orders will be 20% lower on smartphones than desktop sales, Adobe said, calling it a "$9 billion mobile revenue opportunity" if retailers can close the gap. After all, shoppers will spend more time browsing and purchasing with apps than they do on the web, according to the report. And tablet-based sales are declining, making up 8.8% of visits (down 30% in four years) and just 9.6% of sales, according to the report.
Along with a robust economy and high level of consumer confidence, an extra day on the calendar between Cyber Monday and Christmas Day will give retailers a $284 million boost, Adobe said. Some 42% of consumers say their financial situation is better than last year, 41% say it's about the same, and 17% are at least somewhat worse off, according to Berkeley Research Group.
This season, retailers could see a record number of days when they reach new revenue milestones, with 36 days that could top $2 billion, compared to just 22 days last year, Adobe said. But profits could get hit by a number of factors, too, according to a Morgan Stanley note emailed to Retail Dive.
Those analysts, led by Kimberly Greenberger, also expect e-commerce sales to accelerate with online sales penetration expected to reach 23% by year's end and top-line holiday sales to benefit from the economy. "However, cost pressures persist (promotions, transportation, and labor) and could result in lackluster and uninspiring incremental margins," they wrote in comments emailed to Retail Dive.