The Economy

U.S. Holiday Sales to Pass $1 Trillion Milestone

A report by eMarketer predicts a 6% surge to $1.002 trillion in holiday spending this year, the biggest gain since 2011.
Matthew HellerNovember 6, 2018
U.S. Holiday Sales to Pass $1 Trillion Milestone

U.S. shoppers are expected to pass a milestone this holiday season by spending more than $1 trillion for the first time, with both physical and online sales increasing as low unemployment and income growth fuel consumer confidence.

In its latest forecast report, market research firm eMarketer predict total retail sales in the U.S. will hit $1.002 trillion during the holiday period. The year-on-year gain of almost 6% from 2017 would be the biggest since 2011.

The report’s authors say brick-and-mortar sales this year will rise 4.4% to $878.38 billion, above eMarketer’s earlier forecast of $863 billion, while online sales will gain 16.6% to $123.73 billion, or 12.3% of total holiday sales.

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“U.S. macroeconomic indicators, such as GDP growth, a strong labor market and positive consumer sentiment, are contributing to one of the best consumer discretionary spending environments in years,” eMarketer said

As CNBC reports, the brick-and-mortar sector has been floundering, with retailers “closing hundreds of stores across the country as the threat of increased competition from e-commerce firms like Amazon and eBay continues to put pressure on the industry.”

But Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, said physical stores “should be a particular bright spot this holiday season.”

“Not every brick-and-mortar retailer is thriving, and several have shut their doors this year, but others are really capitalizing on the strong consumer economy,” he said in a news release. “Retailers are luring in shoppers with remodeled stores, streamlined checkout and options to buy online, pick up in store.”

eMarketer measures holiday sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. While some “economic headwinds are finally beginning to form after mostly blue skies in 2018, we expect their effects to be muted until after the holidays,” the firm said.

Cindy Liu, forecasting analyst at eMarketer, said U.S. retailers are facing a battle for market share in the e-tail space. “We should expect more promotions and perks like free and fast shipping, as retailers compete against Amazon,” she said.