Strong online growth seen this holiday shopping season

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:02pm EST
 
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By Alistair Barr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - E-commerce is expected to grow strongly this holiday season, spurred by early online deals, the rise of mobile devices and more offers of free shipping.

ComScore Inc expects online sales to grow 15 percent to 18 percent in the United States this holiday season. Last year, holiday e-commerce spending rose 15 percent to a record $37.2 billion, according to the firm.

Doug Anmuth, an analyst at J.P. Morgan, expects online purchases in the fourth quarter to top 10 percent of total U.S. retail spending for the first time.

"It's still early, but our sense is that we will have a really positive holiday season," said Joel Anderson, head of Walmart.com, the online business of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wal-Mart expects 600 million online visitors during its holiday quarter, which runs from November through January. That is up 13 percent from the same period last year, according to Anderson.

"We're still on forecasts and off to a good start," he added.

The holiday season is crucial for retailers because that is when they generate the most revenue and a big chunk of their earnings.

Thanksgiving and the days following, which include what is traditionally the busiest online shopping day, Cyber Monday, are more important this year as retailers lure consumers with earlier promotions.   Continued...