Cyber Monday Set to be Bigger Driver of Online Holiday Sales

November 9, 2015, 2:00 PM UTC
A Best Buy store in Huntington Beach, CA
A Best Buy store in Huntington Beach, CA
Photograph by Diana Haronis — Moment Editorial/Getty Images

Amazon (AMZN) and traditional retailers with strong e-commerce firepower should expect to have a Merry Christmas.

At least that’s the forecast tech consultancy Forrester Research is making. The research firm expects online sales to rise 11% in November and December. That’s a bit slower than last year’s 12% clip, but still about three times the growth of overall retail for the holidays. (The National Retail Federation has previously forecast overall sales will rise 3.7% this season.)

And however much retailers like Amazon, Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), and Best Buy (BBY) are trotting out online deals earlier in the season, Cyber Monday is likely to remain the biggest online shopping day of the year by far. Why? Because a feeling similar to “Black Friday fatigue” has yet to creep in for Cyber Monday.

“Customers had fewer negative associations with Cyber Monday than with Black Friday,” wrote analyst Sucharita Mulpuru in the report. Last year, on Cyber Monday alone, online sales came to $2.5 billion in the U.S.

And however much new technologies (such as in-stores beacons that recognize your smart phone and zap you deals) are gaining in use, Forrester says email will remain the most effective marketing tool for retailers. That confirms the wisdom of the strategy of stores like Target and Kohl’s (KSS) to focus on their loyalty programs and underscores the urgency of J.C. Penney (JCP) as it overhauls its own.

And lest anyone underestimate the importance of digital sales this holiday season, it’s worth remembering this fact from the Forrest report: online sales now generate about 10% of all retail sales. But during the holiday season, that rises to 15% as harried shoppers look for deals and ways to make shopping easier.