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Holiday e-commerce gains expected to match last year’s 15% rise

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — eMarketer projects that retail e-commerce holiday sales in the U.S. will rise about 15% again this year, matching last year’s gains. In total, U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the holiday season — defined as November and December — are expected to reach $61.8 billion, up from $53.7 billion last year, according to the report.

As well, eMarketer estimates US retail e-commerce sales will grow 16.4% to $262.3 billion this year, with 23.5% ($61.8 billion) of this taking place in November and December.

M-commerce is expected to play an important part in overall digital holiday retail spending. eMarketer said it expects that mobile’s share will reach 16% in 2013, up from a previous prediction of a 15% m-commerce share this year. M-commerce sales are expected to reach $41.68 billion this year and by 2017, retail sales made on mobile devices will climb to well over $100 billion, according to eMarketer.

Tablet retail m-commerce sales are expected to hit $26.05 billion, or 62.5% of US retail m-commerce sales overall. That’s up from last year when tablets took a 56.2% share of m-commerce retail sales.

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Express Q3 profit up 11%, cuts full year earnings outlook

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Express Inc. reported net income of $19.3 million for the quarter ended Nov. 2, an 11% rise over last year’s $17.4 million profit.

Revenue increased 7.4% to $503 million, beating Wall Street’s expected $500 million in sales, and same-store sales increased 5%.

However, the specialty retailer lowered its guidance for the fiscal year as it said Thanksgiving week sales exceeded last year’s levels but didn’t meet expectations.

"We had been planning for a promotional holiday season, but we now expect the intensity of those promotions to reach heightened levels and we are updating our full year guidance accordingly," said Michael Weiss, chairman and CEO.

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Survey: Digital gift cards rising in popularity

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Portland, Ore. — Research conducted by InComm found that 67% of consumers surveyed have previously bought a gift card from an online website or mobile website/app, while 33% have not.

Respondents answered questions about their purchasing habits and their intentions for purchasing gift cards from websites and mobile devices – as well as digital cards specifically – this holiday season and beyond.

Highlights of the survey include:

  • 88% agree they’re likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app this holiday season, with 77% likely to purchase at least one digital gift card;
  • Of those who intend to purchase gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps this holiday season, 20% plan to purchase more than 5 gift cards;
  • 40% prefer to have a digital gift card scanned from their phone rather than carry an email printout;
  • Nearly 70% strongly agree that they are more interested in purchasing digital gift cards now than they were two to three years ago;
  • Nearly 20% of those who have purchased gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps purchase five-seven cards annually.

"Brands can dramatically improve sales throughout the year – especially at the holidays – by opening up gift card sales through all channels,” said Mike Fletcher, senior VP Sales and Marketing, Digital Solutions, InComm. “This research shows that consumers want more options for buying and sending gift cards, giving retailers even more reason to expand their offering and ensure an optimal shopping experience for the gift giver and receiver."

Of those who have bought a gift card from an online website or a mobile website/app, 36% have purchased a physical gift card, while 33% have purchased a digital gift card and 31% have purchased both. A digital gift card was defined as a card that is emailed to the recipient, and a physical gift card defined as a traditional gift card that is shipped to the recipient. When asked how many gift cards they purchase from online websites or mobile websites/apps annually, respondents answered:

  • 29% purchase 1
  • 36% purchase 2-4
  • 19% purchase 5-7
  • 9% purchase 8-10
  • 8% purchase more than 10

Eighty-eight percent of respondents strongly agree or agree that they’re likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app this holiday season, while 77% strongly agree or agree that they are likely to purchase at least one digital gift card.

Beyond the holidays, 82% of respondents strongly agree or agree that they are likely to buy at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app in 2014, while about 75% agree that they are likely to buy at least one digital gift card.

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