Holiday E-commerce Sales, Use to Rise

Although the price of gas has plummeted since the Deloitte annual holiday survey of retail spending and trends was conducted, Deloitte vice chairman Stacy Janiak says a do-over would produce similar results.

According to its poll of 13,276 consumers conducted from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7, online retailing will continue to grow this holiday season, with 71% of consumers spending at least part of their holiday budgets on the Internet. That figure is up five percentage points from 2004.

And Janiak says that’s not a number that will drop with the average price at the pump for gasoline.

“We’re not surprised at Internet growth, because increased access to high-speed Internet opens up the channel,” Janiak says. “And there’s the convenience factor. Consumers are time crunched; they want their shopping experience to be as easy as possible.”

Although the sharp drop in fuel frees up some consumer cash, Janiak says, shoppers will be conservative because the employment outlook has weakened. “There’s extra pressure on the consumer when there’s an uncertainty of job prospects.”

Indeed. Because of the economic environment, more than half (52%) of survey respondents say they’ll be on the lookout for free shipping offers from online retailers.

Consumers are also looking for retailers to provide them with flexibility this holiday season. Almost three-quarters of consumers (70%) surveyed will, for example, conduct online research in advance of a store visit.

In fact, more than half of consumers (56%) say they have used multiple shopping channels over the past year, most often purchasing a product in one channel (store, Website, catalog) after viewing or researching it on another channel.

And mobile shopping is expected to rise, as nine 9% of survey respondents say they’ll use their mobile phone to assist with online/in-store shopping. Among 18-29 year olds, this number rises to 17%.

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