US online holiday shopping likely to grow 15 percent in 2012

Shoppers say, let it snow
Shoppers say, let it snow

As shoppers prepare for the holiday season, more are expected to do their holiday gift-picking online then ever before.

Forrester issued its 2012 online holiday shopping forecast for the U.S. Thursday, predicting web retailers will bring in $68.4 billion in revenue, a 15 percent increase over 2011.

Individually, the average U.S. holiday shopper is expected to spend $419 online, a 12 percent increase from last year.

The shift away from brick-and-mortar retailers is driven by ease of access to shoppers who are becoming increasingly price-conscious.

Shoppers look for deals online, with 38 of 2011's top 50 online retailers prominently displaying holiday deals and shipping promotions.

Free shipping in particular is a key consideration, as Forrester notes that 26 percent of adult online shoppers in the U.S. will add unplanned items to their cart just to meet free shipping quotas.

The most wonderful time of the year

The bulk of online shopping will take place on the ever-popular Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which falls on Nov. 23 and Nov. 26, respectively, this year.

Online shopping makes it easier to browse and compare Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals with each retailer, as well as avoid huge crowds at stores.

Last year, the top 500 online retailers saw web traffic spike by more than 170 million unique shoppers which brought in over $2.5 billion in online sales, a trend that is expected to only continue in 2012.

Tech-savvy shoppers have quite the selection this year, with the trinity of Apple, Android and Windows 8 each recently launching big ticket items like the iPad mini, iPad 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Microsoft Surface.

Nintendo has also timed the launch of its new home console, the Wii U, for the weekend before Black Friday so that it hits the crucial sales window.

Some retailers, like Best Buy and Wal-mart, have already started announcing their Black Friday deals, with online discounts likely to follow closer to the actual dates.

Via Forrester