Report: 2018 holiday sales to grow 15%, driven by Amazon and mobile

In its 11th annual holiday forecast, digital agency NetElixir projects online revenue will grow by 15 percent over last year to roughly $97 billion. Based on its analysis, Amazon is expected to account for 40 percent of holiday sales and mobile is expected to drive more than 42 percent of total online sales.

Strong early indicators. The robust estimate (up from 13 percent sales growth seen last year) factors in indicators from last holiday through this year’s back-to-school period. From January through August this year, orders and revenue increased by double digits year over year. Back to school orders increased by 17 percent, and revenue rose by 14 percent compared to last year.

The report takes into account both marketplace and website sales across NetElixir’s clients in five verticals.

The Amazon factor. Holiday sales from Amazon are expected to hit $38.8 billion. That puts Amazon’s projected share of holiday sales at 40 percent, up from 35 percent in 2017, including $9.4 billion in incremental sales. That percentage includes sales from Vendor Central (sold by Amazon) and Seller Central (marketplace sales by retailers).

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Source: NetElixir. Includes merchandise sold by Amazon directly as well as marketplace sales on Amazon.

Strong growth won’t come from bigger baskets. Growth is not expected to come from larger order values. Across all five verticals in the report — gourmet food, apparel and shoes, home decor, gifting, consumer electronics — average order value estimates are down slightly or flat. The Apparel and shoes category is poised for the strongest growth this holiday season, with 19 percent revenue growth and 23 percent rise in orders year over year. Average order value for the category, though, is predicted to drop by 3 percent.

Key holiday shopping periods. NetElixir says holiday gift-related search query volume will pick up starting Oct. 21. The three peak online shopping periods for this year’s holiday shopping will be:

  • The five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday (11/22-11/26).
  • Green Monday Period (12/9-12/12).
  • Mobile Shopping Spike (12/18-12/21).

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