NEW YORK — E-commerce players can forget those worries about a weak holiday season — they’re still in growth mode.
Forrester Research predicted Monday that U.S. online sales this holiday season would reach almost $78 billion, a 15 percent increase from last year. Not bad, considering overall holiday sales are slated to rise 2.4 percent to 4.5 percent amid weak consumer confidence, economic and governmental concerns and the shortest holiday season in more than a decade.
“This is the third consecutive year that we’re expecting double-digit growth, which is just proving that the Web channel is where people are going to do their holiday shopping,” said Douglas Roberge, researcher serving ebusiness and strategy professionals at Forrester Research. The vast majority of the growth this year, or about 80 percent, will be spurred by people who already shop online.
The online tactics changed little this year — e-mail marketing is still seen as an effective way to get repeat shoppers, the influence of mobile devices is continuing to grow and Web merchants are still turning to promotions and free shipping to draw customers. Overall, the impact of the digital commerce is expected to be more significant this year. Forty-one percent of all retail sales will be impacted by the Web, according to Roberge.
“By that logic, we think that this holiday season that cross-channel sales will impact about $247 billion in sales,” Roberge said. “Digital is having a huge impact in terms of the sales it drives directly.”
The consumer is still as price conscious as ever — and rather than focusing on the bells and whistles, retailers must make sure their sites are working, experts said. The online winners this holiday season are expected to nail speed, operations and fulfillment. Those surveyed by Forrester specified that lower prices and shipping costs (or free shipping) are the top drivers when it comes to purchasing from an online retailer that they’ve never shopped from before.
Retailers are doing what they can to fend off the online onslaught, trying, for instance, to build on the reputation of the Thanksgiving period as an ubershopping event, opening up while the leftover turkey’s still warm.
Director of consumer economic at IHS Global Insights Chris Christopher said that consumers are realizing they can now get to certain stores on Thanksgiving, opening around 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., making Gray Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day, more relevant as a shopping day.
“That is the dynamic we’re seeing, but all said and done — the clicks are clearly outpacing bricks,” Christopher said.
Just like physical retailers, e-commerce players are also getting in on the action earlier this year.
“The cyber stores are now doing cyber attacks with e-mails or deals, and they will be doing them on Gray Thursday as well,” Christopher said. “This is downplaying Cyber Monday, it’s not as relevant.” According to ComScore, Cyber Monday sales rose 21.7 percent last year to $1.25 billion, with 10 million consumers shopping online.
And while showrooming — searching online for items originally found in-store for a better price — tilts in the favor of Web players, Christopher added that shoppers also reverse showroom, or research goods online and then go to a store to buy them.
The economist said pureplays have to rise to the competitive challenge and can’t depend on people who are home on Thanksgiving to shop online as physical retailers hold doorbuster events. They need to get the message out sooner because shoppers might be heading to the mall or to stores after Thanksgiving dinner.
IHS Global Insights’ projection of online holiday retail sales is a bit higher than that of Forrester’s — with Christopher estimating business to be in the “neighborhood of $81 billion.”
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye