More Predictions of Strong Holiday Sales, but…

Forrester Research says that holiday shoppers are pessimistic this year. But BDO Seidman says that chief marketing officers at leading retailers are quite optimistic about the season.

In fact, though Cambridge, MA-based Forrester reports “consumers state that they are pessimistic about their overall online retail holiday spending,” it expects online retail sales to hit $27 billion this holiday season, up 23% from last year. Among the 4,000 consumers surveyed, nearly 20% said that they will be doing most of their shopping online this season.

Even so, 27% of those surveyed said they prefer not to buy online because they don’t want to deal with returns. What’s more, 15% said they received orders late last year.

“In order to maximize online retail sales this year, e-commerce executives must recognize that everything consumers experience after they reach a confirmation page is just as important as everything that happens prior,” Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester senior analyst, said in a statement. “By emphasizing convenience of returns during the selling process and then exceeding customer expectations for package delivery, retailers can not only reap good sales this year but also positively influence consumer confidence to shop online in the future.”

Among the chief marketing officers at the top 100 U.S. retailers surveyed by Chicago-based consultancy BDO Seidman, 67% anticipate that their holiday sales to increase over last year’s, by an average of 7.8%.

The Internet is expected to drive much of the sales growth. Seventy-four percent expect their online holiday sales to increase, while only 47% predict a rise in in-store sales and 39% an increase in catalog/mail order sales.

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