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Survey: Online retailers expecting strong holiday sales

Washington, D.C. A survey released Thursday by Shop.org found that the majority of online retailers are expecting strong sales this holiday season.

Shop.org’s eHoliday Study, conducted by BIGresearch, found that 63.8% of retailers expect their company’s online sales to grow by 15% or more compared with last holiday season. That’s up from 45.7% of retailers who had those expectations last year.

The survey also found that 40% of online retailers will begin holiday marketing by Halloween, with another 40% planning to begin marketing the week of Nov. 1.

Four out of five online retailers (84.8%) will offer free shipping at some point during the holiday season, and 31.4% said these offers will begin earlier this year than a year ago. Shoppers may even see more free shipping deals this year, as 36.7% of retailers said their budget for free shipping is higher than last holiday season.

Social media will play a bigger role this holiday season, according to the survey findings. The majority of retailers (72.5%) say they have invested in the company’s Facebook page in advance of the holidays. Additionally, more than half said they have invested in cross-selling on product pages (54.9%), site search (54.9%) and customer ratings and reviews (52.9%). Another 43.1% said they have invested more this holiday season in a Twitter campaign or Twitter feed.

About one-third (32.2%) of online shoppers say they’ll make more of their holiday purchases on the web this year, listing 24-hour convenience (35.1%), easy price comparisons (33.1%) and a lack of desire to fight the crowds (30.8%) among the main reasons why they’re shifting a portion of their spending.