Despite an economy that remains sluggish, online sales have shown strong growth in the months leading up to the holiday shopping season. As of July 2011, MasterCard Advisors’ “SpendingPulse” report estimated online retail sales growth of 14.0% year-over-year from all payment forms, not just the company’s own credit card.
comScore’s Q2 2011 retail ecommerce sales estimate, released in August 2011, was more conservative than MasterCard’s but still reported growth at 14%, up from 12% in Q1 2011.
Based on research and interviews with a variety of industry experts, eMarketer expects online holiday sales to be on par with or surpass last year’s results. That would mean growth of at least 12% this year, according to comScore’s historical data. The firm reported that online spending grew 12% on volume of $32.8 billion for the 2010 holiday season, which it defines as the months of November and December.
“First-half ecommerce sales estimates are strong and industry experts have reasons to be optimistic about the 2011 online holiday shopping season, but the volatile global economy could cause consumers to cut back on spending,” said Grau. “Affluent consumers, who account for a high share of online sales, spend freely when their stock portfolios are healthy. But market downturns have historically undermined their sense of financial security, causing them to pull back on discretionary spending.”
Retailers must be prepared to adjust their merchandising and promotional strategies for various consumer-demand scenarios.