Business & Lobbying

Retail group forecasts 30 percent jump in online sales this holiday season

Online purchases are projected to soar as much as 30 percent this holiday season compared to last year as consumers shift away from in-store shopping during the pandemic, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said Monday.

NRF is predicting online and other non-store sales will increase between 20 percent and 30 percent, for spending between $202.5 billion and $218.4 billion, up from $168.7 billion in 2019.

The projections are in line with other forecasts from places like Adobe Analytics, which recently said it expects online sales for November and December to increase by 33 percent compared to last year.

The surge in coronavirus cases nationwide has led to many consumers avoiding in-person store visits and making purchases online instead.

"Consumers are responding, consumers are adapting as well, changing their own habits, changing their own behavior in the way that they engage," Matthew Shay, the retail group's CEO, said on a press call Monday.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist, noted that electronics, appliances and clothing are all likely to see more online purchases, while furniture and garden equipment will likely continue to have strong in-store purchases.

"We've seen some real strength in furniture and home furnishings and in building and garden equipment over the last few months. I believe that those categories will probably continue especially because ... the strength in the housing market, which is certainly pulling along retail sales in these categories. As you buy a new home or build a new home, you're going to outfit these homes with retail products and capabilities," Kleinhenz said.

NRF predicted that overall holiday sales in November and December will increase between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent compared to 2019. That increase would be between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.

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