Holiday shopping could top $1 trillion for the first time this year

eMarketer says online shoppers should expect promotions and perks as retailers compete for holiday dollars.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

Amazon this week dropped its $25 free shipping minimum for the holidays.

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This holiday season is gonna make it rain.

Ecommerce sales will grow 16.6 percent to $123.73 billion this holiday shopping season, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, as total retail sales in the US surpass $1 trillion for the first time, according to market research company eMarketer.

"For retailers, it will be a battle for ecommerce market share," said Cindy Liu, forecasting analyst at eMarketer, in a release. "We should expect more promotions and perks like free and fast shipping, as retailers compete against Amazon ."

Amazon on Monday dropped its $25 minimum for free shipping to non-Prime shoppers in the US. The offer lasts until Amazon's delivery cutoff window for Christmas, which usually hits mid-December. Walmart and Target have made similar moves as the retailers jockey for customers' dollars during the all-important holiday season.

Ecommerce will make up 12.3 percent of all holiday shopping sales this year, a number that has been growing steadily, according to eMarketer. Nearly 44 percent of those ecommerce sales will happen on a phone or tablet.

eMarketer said the strong shopping season comes as unemployment rate drops, income growth and high consumer confidence. The company forecasted this holiday season based on data from research firms, government agencies, executives at publishers and other sources.

Sales at brick-and mortar stores still capture the majority of holiday sales. Brick-and-mortar sales are expected to rise 4.4 percent to $878.38 billion this year, according to eMarketer.