The job of forecasters has never been easy, but this year may be particularly difficult as the experts try to determine how consumers will spend during the upcoming holiday season. Current indications signal it could be a good year for holiday retail ad spending. Analysts at eMarketer are releasing one of the first estimates, predicting total holiday sales will increase 2.7% from a year ago to $1.093 billion. In-store sales are projected to increase about one percent as Americans are more comfortable returning to the shopping mall, but the big gains will be in online sales. The forecast predicts online sales will climb 11% to $207 million with nearly one in five dollars spent this holiday season coming through an online order.
“More consumers will likely turn to online shopping throughout the entire holiday season, especially after retailers proved over the last year that they can duplicate much of the in-store experiences digitally by offering the same discounts online and in-store and through same-day pickup,” said eMarketer in a blog post. It noted that retail ecommerce sales are projected to make up 18.9% of total holiday retail sales in 2021, up from 17.5% last year.
Several retailers have said they do not plan to open on Thanksgiving Day this year, a trend that began last year as a COVID safety precaution to keep stores from becoming overcrowded and has only picked up steam in 2021. But that does not mean sales will wait until Black Friday. The analysts at eMarketer predict online sales will hit $6.21 billion on Thanksgiving Day this year. That would be a 50% increase from 2019 when online sales totaled $4.13 billion during the holiday.
“The same trend will likely hold true for Black Friday – though to a lesser extent, since more stores are expected to be open that day,” said eMarketer. “Consumers may have grown accustomed to online shopping in the last year and might opt for the ecommerce route, and others may just want the convenience of avoiding the long lines that are typical for the busy shopping holidays. But kicking off Thanksgiving weekend with online shopping might set the stage for more ecommerce through the rest of the holiday season.”
The first holiday retail ads could show up well before the traditional start of the holiday season according to analysts. They say the focus on ecommerce is likely to start the holiday season earlier, especially if rumors of a second holiday-themed Amazon Prime Day are true.