By: Emily It's the most wonderful time of the year. I know what you're thinking: “Already?” But it's true. Retailers are taking note as holiday shoppers begin their hunt for deals and steals online. According to eMarketer's Online Holiday Shopping Forecast earlier in the year, 42 percent of retailers were expected to have started their holiday promotions as early as October. You're probably thinking to yourself that this was just another advertising gimmick to entice shoppers and encourage excessive holiday spending, but according to eMarketer's Principal Analyst Jeffrey Grau, it is shoppers who influenced retailers' decisions to start early. eMarketer's report says that the online holiday shopping season will be extended this year, and we have mobile devices and tablets to thank. Say goodbye to what was once considered traditional shopping hours. Mobile and tablet shoppers are reshaping the shopping day, browsing and making purchases around the clock. Now more than ever, shoppers are using smartphones and other mobile devices to search for the best deals. Retailers are wise to capitalize on this opportunity to attract online shoppers and accelerate sales. “Halloween is the new Thanksgiving,” Grau says in the report. By the time Black Friday hit on November 25, 2011, 54 percent of shoppers had already completed their holiday shopping. What does this mean for 2012? Retailers ran their Black Friday promotions a day early and held them throughout the following day in order to attract as many shoppers as possible. But shoppers aren't only planning early; they're planning for later, too. Before the start of the 2011 holiday season, 60 percent of shoppers were already looking forward to post-holiday sales. On Christmas day in 2011, online sales grew by 16.4 percent; sales on mobile devices increased by 173 percent, year over year. Last year, 39 percent of consumers shopped after Christmas. ComScore and the Department of Commerce report that online sales are up by 15 percent, year over year. The 2012 holiday forecast predicts that retailers will see $54.5 billion in online sales between the November and December months alone; this is a 16.8 percent increase from 2011, and it covers 24.3 percent of total e-commerce sales for 2012. What does this mean for online retailers? Prepare for holiday virtual shopping carts now to have a holly jolly retail season.
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