Forrester’s "US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2013" launches today. In it, we predict that for the third consecutive year, online holiday sales (November and December) are expected to grow at a double-digit pace and pull in over $78 billion. This represents about one-third of the overall retail sales volume for the year. This optimism is largely due to ever-increasing numbers of consumers choosing the Web over physical stores and the rise in mobile commerce. Despite unknowns such as the effects of a truncated holiday season and lingering consumer uncertainty around the federal government shutdown, online retailers can expect that consumers will be out in droves. The most successful retailers this holiday season will cater to consumers who:

  • Expect free shipping in some form. Consumers have come to expect free shipping, especially during the holidays, and many will actually leave a site if it's not offered. It’s the second most common reason why US online buyers abandon purchases and go to another retailer, behind price.
  • Research via all channels to find the best deals. Forrester expects that, not unlike in holidays past, price and saving money will be key considerations this holiday season. As the Web channel has become synonymous with value, retailers should expect consumers to be avidly searching for deals through a variety of touchpoints, at home and in-store on mobile devices. Availability of web content across devices will be critical: Forrester estimates that cross-channel sales (transactions that are influenced by the Web in some way but are completed in stores) will account for $247 billion this holiday season.
  • Shop online on key holiday dates. In 2012, web traffic to the top 500 retailers on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday grew steadily, with each garnering over 190 million online shoppers, representing the top three traffic days of the year. While Cyber Monday continues to be the apex of holiday traffic (206.8 million online shoppers), historically smaller online shopping dates like Free Shipping Day also saw significant traffic boosts over 2011.

How do you succeed in such a competitive holiday arena? Read the full report here for more information on this year's holiday trends and on what retail eBusiness professionals can do to capitalize on (what can be) the most wonderful time of the year.