Deloitte Predicts Exceptionally Strong Sales for the 2018 Holidays

November 8, 2018

This blog post is part of our 2018 Holiday Planning series. Be sure to check back often or, better yet, subscribe to the blog to stay updated with this year’s latest holiday trends, tips, best practices, reports and more!

Last year, Deloitte’s annual holiday shopping survey made big waves when researchers predicted, for the first time ever, that more shopping would be online than in-store.

Actual seasonal spending did not disappoint.

By the time all the gifts had been opened and celebrations were winding down, online sales had increased nearly 15% to hit a record of $108.2 billion. Inspired by the convenience of mobile payments and shopping apps, consumers also made purchases from their smartphones more than ever before — leading to the first-ever $2 billion mobile shopping day on Cyber Monday.

It was the best holiday season sellers had seen in six years, with online holiday retail sales increasing 18% compared to the year before.

And now it’s time to start again. With Deloitte’s 2018 survey hot off the press, e-commerce sellers will be glad to know that forecasts are equally bright for spending in Q4 2018. Here are the highlights:

Confident Consumers Are in the Mood to Spend

The biggest driver of holiday spending? Consumer confidence. What shoppers think about the overall economy, as well as their own personal finances, directly impact how much they spend during peak seasons. And so far, they’re highly optimistic on both counts.

Most of the 4,036 consumers surveyed by Deloitte said their own household situations have improved or remained unchanged in the past year, and 73% believe the economy will either continue to improve or remain stable.

Those sentiments were echoed by The Conference Board, which reported a surge in consumer confidence to an 18-year high.

With confidence trending high, consumers are ready to tackle the holiday shopping season at full speed. Overall, buyers indicate they’ll spend an average of $1,536 per consumer this season. That’s a 25% increase over 2017’s projected $1,226, which itself had been a 23% jump from the preceding year.

Online Spending Continues to Outpace In-Store Buying

The news is even more encouraging for e-commerce. While Deloitte expects total retail sales to increase an impressive 5 to 5.6%, the growth for online sales could be nearly four times higher. Researchers are expecting e-commerce sales to rise between 17% and 22% during the 2018 holiday season.

Deloitte’s prediction that online spending will account for 57% of all purchases closely matches forecasts from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which says 55% of consumers will shop online during the holidays.

“Given that over half of holiday spending is anticipated to be online, it’s not surprising that online retailers are the most popular format, with 60% of shoppers planning to shop at these venues,” Deloitte’s report authors wrote.

Over three-fourths cited convenience as the main reason for online buying during the holidays. More than 70% mentioned free shipping and two-thirds mentioned time savings and home delivery.

NRF respondents also stressed the importance of fast, free holiday deliveries. Ninety-four percent said they’ll take advantage of free shipping, while 16% will choose expedited shipping and 11% plan to use same-day delivery

In addition to fast and free deliveries, shoppers expressed expectations for positive experiences in several other key areas including:

  • Mobile: The percentage of people who plan to use mobile to make a purchase has increased significantly, from 57% in 2017 to 67% this year.
  • Omnichannel: Consumers made it clear that holiday shopping is no longer an “either online or in-store” proposition, but rather a seamless experience between the two.
  • Social commerce: Almost a quarter (23%) of shoppers plan to use social media sites to assist in their holiday shopping process, about the same as in 2017.

What Do the Numbers Mean for You?

If everything pans out as anticipated, the 2018 end-of-year holidays could be the most profitable peak season many online sellers have seen in years. The more prepared you are, the better equipped you’ll be to enjoy a large slice of that revenue pie.

Not sure where to start? ChannelAdvisor has plenty of resources for the 2018 season. Our e-commerce experts are constantly watching trends and adjusting their holiday selling tips based on the latest buying trends. Be sure to subscribe to the ChannelAdvisor blog to stay up to date on the most timely best practices for selling this season.

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