dawn of the new millennium, one the most dependable economic tracking numbers
has been the year-over-year growth of online holiday shopping. You could depend
on 20 percent growth each year, even in years when traditional retail stores
saw almost no growth.
is likely to end in 2008, according to more than one reputable forecast. Both
eMarketer.com and Lehman Brothers are predicting that the growth in online
holiday sales will be no better than 8-10 percent this year. (See tables
To be fair,
the expected drop in growth is not solely due to the economic downturn. As the
online marketplace matures, increases that were common during its growth years
will be nearly impossible to sustain. (Growth during the second quarter of this
year dipped into single digits for the first time, according to an analysis by Burst Media
larger economy is surely the driving factor here. A survey
by The National Retail Federation (NRF)
found that consumers are planning
to spend $832.36 on holiday-related shopping this year, up only 1.9 percent
over last year’s expenditure of $816.69. That represents the lowest increase in
planned consumer spending since the survey began in 2002.
sellers, one bit of data from the NRF survey should be comforting. Shoppers
said the one factor that will play the biggest role in their buying decisions
this year is price. Online’s lower overhead and more efficient marketing should
enable it to compete with brick-and-mortar retail, and make further inroads in
the holiday shopping habits of consumers.