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Holiday Sales To Moderate As Digital Momentum Grows

The long runway to Christmas is underway, and prognosticators are wasting no time rolling out their fourth-quarter sales projections.

One of the first out of the gate is global analyst eMarketer, which is forecasting a 3.1 percent increase in total U.S. retail sales in November and December, down from last year’s 4.5 percent gain.

The total holiday take: an expected $929.2 billion, the firm said, representing 18.4 percent of total annual retail sales — essentially unchanged from last year.

Of that holiday haul, 11.5 percent, or some $107 billion, will be purchased online, an increase of 16.6 percent over Holiday 2016, when 10.2 percent of purchases were digitally derived.

Conversely, the percentage of purchases made in-store will tick down from 90 percent to 89 percent, even as the in-store sales tally edges up 1.6 percent, to $822.2 billion, eMarketer said.

For full-year 2017, the company is forecasting a 15.8 percent increase in U.S. ecommerce sales, to $452.8 billion, or 9 percent of total retail sales.

The estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, eMarketer said, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies.