Ecommerce could jump 15% over 2021 holiday season
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Even though it’s still firmly “back-to-school” season for many families, the holidays are fast approaching, and retail forecasts show spending is set to jump anywhere from 7 to 9 percent as consumers go perhaps a little bigger than usual with their annual gift giving in 2021.

Specifically, Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast shows that ecommerce is going to continue enjoying a rapid growth trajectory of 11 to 15 percent growth in sales over last year, with totals potentially reaching $218 billion during November-January.

All of this after retail spending jumped 5.8 percent over the same period last year, besting Deloitte’s most ambitious forecast as many experts took a cautious stance given the ongoing pandemic.

Innovations like curbside pickup, which saw more than 30 percent jump last year, will continue to help drum up more spending volume, though not at the same breakneck pace as last year now that many consumers are more comfortable returning to in-store shopping. The biggest takeaway from the report, however, is that the digital transformations that helped many retailers stay afloat last year weren’t short-sighted or short-term, and consumer habits will be veering toward a “hybrid” shopping experience for the long haul.

“Across channels, retailers should expect a strong holiday season as consumer spending levels are projected to remain high,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader. “While consumer concerns about health and safety have eased since the last holiday season, pandemic-influenced shopping behaviors continue to gain traction. Retailers who remain resilient to shifting consumer behaviors and offer convenient options for online and in-store shopping, as well as order fulfillment, will be poised for growth this holiday season, and into the new year.”

In total, Deloitte predicts holiday spending will top $1.3 trillion through November-January, which aligns closely with predictions from MasterCard (who forecast a $7.4 percent jump year-over-year) and Bain Capital, who anticipate $800 billion will be spent in November-December alone—up 7 percent from last year, by Bain’s count.

A restructured retail landscape

Last year, Buy Online Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) options, which became instantly popular at the start of the pandemic, accounted for 25 percent of all online purchases during the 2020 holiday season, jumping 40 percent from 2019’s pre-pandemic holiday trend.

At the time, this uptick in relatively new purchasing channel volume overwhelmed supply chains—including the postal service—who were adapting to a new way of working in much the way the larger enterprise space had to transform for work-from-home.

This year, while Deloitte and other forecasters anticipate fewer markdowns and bargains, they also predict far fewer issues when it comes to fulfillment and increased customer satisfaction this year compared to last.

As the holiday season ramps up and the headlines regarding the state of retail bounce between doom and glory, it’s inevitable that the future of the industry will remain hard to forecast. But when it comes to orchestrating a multichannel retail operation, a large footprint of physical locations – both stores and fulfillment centers – and the introduction of automation into the supply chain, one thing remains clear: Network performance will be critical to ensuring that the retailers of tomorrow succeed.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: network performance monitoring , network management , network monitoring , retail network , holiday shopping , holiday , multichannel , omnichannel , hybrid retail , online shopping , retail , ecommerce , network monitoring , network management