FINANCE

Holiday sales to cross trillion dollar mark; brick-and-mortar stays strong

BY Marianne Wilson

Holiday retail sales are poised to cross a major threshold this year, fueled by low unemployment, income growth, high consumer confidence and a favorable calendar.

Total retail sales in the United States will increase 5.8% to $1.002 trillion, according to eMarketer, which raised its projections from its earlier forecast. It is the first time holiday sales will cross the $1 trillion mark, with 2018 showing the strongest growth since 2011. Spending momentum will get an added boost from a favorable holiday calendar that features the maximum 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Brick-and-mortar sales for the holiday season will jump 4.4% to $878.38 billion (higher than the $863 billion that eMarketer previously had projected). Brick-and-mortar still represents the majority (87.7%) of holiday sales, although its share has steadily declined in recent years.

“While e-commerce will continue to see strong double-digit gains, brick-and-mortar retail should be a particular bright spot this holiday season,” said Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer. “Retailers are luring in shoppers with remodeled stores, streamlined checkout and options to buy online, pick up in-store.”

E-commerce sales this holiday season will increase 16.6% to $123.73 billion, according to eMarketer, representing 12.3% of all holiday retail sales this year.

“For retailers, it will be a battle for e-commerce market share,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu. “We should expect more promotions and perks like free and fast shipping, as retailers compete against Amazon.”

Holiday sales via tablets and smartphones is also growing, representing 43.8% of e-commerce this year, equate- to 5.4% of total holiday sales.

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