Survey: E-commerce sales to grow to $46.7 billion for holiday 2011

New York City – E-commerce sales in the U.S. for the November and December holiday shopping season will rise 16.8% to $46.7 billion in 2011, up from $39.9 billion last year and representing a pace five times faster than total retail industry growth, according to eMarketer.

That means online sales growth will reach double digits for the third consecutive year, even though the economy remains shaky and consumers are keeping tight budgets.

“E-commerce has been insulated from the lingering effects of the recession and has even benefitted from price-conscious consumers’ reliance on the internet to save money,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Online Holiday Sales Forecast: Savings and Convenience Will Drive Strong Growth.”
 
By comparison, eMarketer said it believes total retail sales in the United States will see meager growth of about 3% this holiday season.

Strong online holiday spending will boost e-commerce sales to $195 billion for the year, up 16.5% over 2010, according to the report. Holiday sales will account for almost a quarter (23.9%) of online sales in 2011, underlining the importance that November and December have on many retailers’ annual e-commerce sales.

As a result of strong growth, e-commerce’s share of total retail sales is gradually increasing, with the biggest gains taking place during the holiday season. In 2010, e-commerce accounted for 5.7% of sales from January through October, but jumped to 7.4% for the holiday season, eMarketer estimated.

Online holiday sales will get a boost from smartphone and tablet users, Grau said.

“Mobile shoppers are having a noticeable influence on holiday sales,” added Grau. “Given the fast growth in device ownership — especially tablet ownership — it is likely that retailers will report significant online sales coming from mobile users this holiday season.”