The Latest Holiday Shopping Season Statistics for 2019

Retailers accept competitor online returns at physical locations for 2019 holiday season

Welcome to November and the 2019 holiday shopping season! Apparently, we’re late. According to a 2019 online survey from The Harris Poll and OpenX, 50% of people started shopping for their loved ones’ wish lists back in August.

So what other statistics have we glossed over or just plain missed? What predictions presage new customer purchase and return trends that will impact retailer supply chains? Let’s review some of the most interesting predictions and statistics for this year’s holiday shopping season.

Merry and Bright: Total Retailer Holiday Sales Will Increase 3.8 – 5% YOY in 2019

Retailers should expect a multi-billion dollar increase in 2019 sales over last year’s results:

  • The National Retail Federation, or NRF, predicts the most modest increase in holiday shopping at 3.8 – 4.2% more than 2018. In all, the NRF expects retailers to generate between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion in revenue for the 2019 holiday shopping season.
  • The same Harris Poll/OpenX survey we cited earlier believes retailers should expect a round 5% increase in year-over-year holiday shopping sales.
  • Deloitte recently released its Holiday Retail Sales Forecast for 2019, in which it predicted a 4.5-5% jump in retailers’ holiday sales YOY. In total, Deloitte projects an enormous $1.1 trillion in total holiday sales from November to January.

These forecasts are based on a still-strong economy and low unemployment, but are tempered by the trade tensions between the United States and China.

Digital Sales Will See Double-Digit Increase for 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

The research team behind the Harris Poll/Open X survey expects that for the first time, over half of all shopping in the 2019 holiday season – 53% of all purchases – will be done digitally. This substantial increase over previous years is corroborated by other sources:

  • The NRF predicts a 11-14% year-over-year increase in digital purchases. In all, it predicts digital transactions will account for between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion of 2019 holiday sales revenue – up from $146.5 billion last year.
  • In analyzing half a billion global shopper habits, its own internal data of eCommerce retailers and a survey of 10,000+ consumers, Salesforce predicts a 13% YOY increase in online shopping. It believes total digital sales will reach $131 billion.
  • Deloitte is the most optimistic of our forecasts, predicting a 14-18% YOY rise in digital sales this holiday season. It sees e-commerce holiday sales reaching between $144 – 149 billion this year.

“Convenience is the new retail currency.”

So how can retailers leverage these predictions? Rod Sides, a vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader, has a few suggestions.

“Convenience is the new retail currency,” he told the media. “Retailers who offer seamless experiences, have products available and can deliver items more quickly [are] most likely to win this holiday season.”

A convenient shopping experience also means having a convenient and effective returns policy. Whether a retailer offers refunds, store credit, exchanges or a combination of the three, great return policies can encourage customers to buy again – during the holiday season and beyond.