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08/02/2021

eMarketer: E-commerce sales to make up 18.9% of total holiday retail sales

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Thanksgiving store closures will likely push more consumers online on the holiday and set the stage for the rest of the season. 

That’s according to a report by eMarketer, which projected that e-commerce will account for 18.9% of total holiday sales this year, reaching $206.88 billion, up from 17.5% in 2020, when e-commerce sales hit $878.26 billion. 

Non e-commerce holiday retail sales are forecast to total $885.99 billion this year. (Sales are for November and December, and exclude travel and event tickets and food services and bars sales.). 

“With stores being closed, consumers who would’ve normally gone shopping after Thanksgiving Day dinner will likely turn to online shopping to avoid missing out on promotions—making ecommerce a greater focal point than before the pandemic,” the eMarketer report said. 

A number of retailers have announced their stores will be dark on Thanksgiving Day, including Target, Walmart and Best Buy. 
 
In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, Thanksgiving Day e-commerce sales hit $4.13 billion. By comparison, this year the total is expected to reach $6.21 billion, per eMarketer forecasts.

The increase in online shopping is expected to hold true for Black Friday—though to a lesser extent since more stores will be open that day, according to eMarketer.

“Consumers may have grown accustomed to online shopping in the last year and might opt for the ecommerce route, and others may just want the convenience of avoiding the long lines that are typical for the busy shopping holidays,” the report said. “But kicking off Thanksgiving weekend with online shopping might set the stage for more ecommerce through the rest of the holiday season.

The report noted that the digital push will likely set off an earlier holiday season again.

[Read More: Etsy, Walmart top list of 2021’s fastest-growing e-commerce retailers]