US Retail Sales Projected to Top $1 Trillion This Holiday Season

Americans are expected to spend just over $1 trillion this holiday season, despite a shopping season that it six days shorter and anxiety over the U.S. economy. That projection marks a 3.8% year-over-year sales jump and the first-ever holiday season to reach the trillion-dollar level.

E-commerce sales are projected to account for 13.4% of all holiday sales, up by 1.1 percentage points year over year. Online sales are forecast to rise 13.2% year over year compared with a 10.8% year-over-year increase in 2018. Total e-commerce sales are projected to reach $135.35 billion.

The forecast comes from retail analytics firm eMarketer, which also projects an increase in sales at brick-and-mortar stores of 2.5% to a total of $872.25 billion.

Andrew Lipsman, principal eMarketer analyst, commented:

Holiday spending growth will be driven by a consumer economy that remains robust, due to low unemployment, rising wages, a strong stock market and healthy consumer confidence. At the same time, rising tariffs, trade war tensions, stock market volatility and dampening consumer sentiment all weigh on the season’s growth potential. A shortened calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas also presents a challenge.

Lipsman also noted that giant retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy “appear well positioned for the 2019 holiday season.” The shortened shopping season favors retailers that can deliver goods quickly or have “advanced click-and-collect operations.”

Nearly half (47.5%) of e-commerce sales will be transacted on mobile devices, and they will account for about 6.4% of all holiday sales. While that is a small total, mobile e-commerce is growing faster than any other shopping channel.

Cyber Monday is forecast to be the biggest online shopping day ever with a sales total that may surpass $10 billion. eMarketer also expects Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Tuesday to rank among the top sales days of the season.

Last month, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that consumers say they plan to spend an average of nearly $1,050 this season, up 4% from last year’s spending of around $1,010. The NRF forecast total holiday sales of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion, with e-commerce accounting for $162.6 billion to $166.9 billion of that total.