Thursday , December 13, 2018

Forecast Has a Sunny Outlook for Merchant Acquirers’ Holiday E-Commerce Volumes

Online-commerce analytics firm eMarketer Inc. is out with its 2018 holiday spending forecast, and it has some encouraging news for merchant acquirers, especially those in the e-commerce and mobile-commerce space.

New York City-based eMarketer’s “Holiday Shopping 2018: A Strong Economy Sets the Stage for a Spending Surge” report predicts total U.S. retail sales will rise 4.1% in the November-December period over the same months in 2017 to $986.8 billion. Brick-and-mortar sales will continue to dominate, claiming 87.5% of the total pie at $863.4 billion, but growing only 2.6% year-over-year.

In contrast, retail e-commerce will grow 16.2% to $123.4 billion, or 12.5% of total holiday spending. In 2017, e-commerce accounted for 11.2%, or $106.1 billion, of the season’s $947.6 billion in retail sales.

A consumer shops for Halloween costumes on his smart phone.

Mobile will be the star of the 2018 e-commerce show, according to eMarketer. The firm predicts retail sales on mobile devices will surpass $50 billion for the first time, hitting $54.2 billion, a 32.6% increase from $40.9 billion in 2017.

Mobile commerce will account for 43.9% of total e-commerce retail volume this season and 5.5% of all holiday retail sales, according to eMarketer’s prediction. In 2017’s holidays, mobile claimed a 38.5% share of total retail e-commerce and 4.3% of all retail sales.

Desktop and other forms of non-mobile e-commerce, including voice commerce, will grow only 6% this season to $69.2 billion, or 7% of retail sales, eMarketer predicts.

“We’re several years into the emergence of mobile shopping, but it’s mobile buying that’s really flexing its muscle at the moment,” Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, said in a statement. “Retailers that look past mobile because it’s the smallest sales channel will find it much harder to post the sort of profits they’re hoping for–and should be able to expect—given the positive economic backdrop.”

Mobile’s predicted gains will be the result of higher conversions thanks to retailers’ continued efforts to streamline checkout on the mobile Web and apps, eMarketer says. Plus, “consumers are growing more adept at transacting on mobile devices,” the company said in a news release. Some of that aptitude can be attributed to the bigger screens on many new smart-phone models.

EMarketer’s definition of mobile retail sales includes products or services ordered using the Internet on mobile devices, regardless of the method of payment or fulfillment. The prediction excludes travel and event tickets; payments for bills, taxes, or money transfers; sales in the food-service sector and bars, and gambling “and other vice-good sales,” eMarketer said.

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