Thanksgiving turkeys haven't even found their way into the oven yet, but retail retail industry experts are already expecting blockbuster holiday season sales in 2012, driven by online buyers.
E-retailers and brick-and-mortar stores with online storefronts will rake in $2 billion on Cyber Monday alone, according to Adobe's holiday buying forecast for 2012.
Software maker Adobe tracks online traffic and sales for clients of its Digital Index division, part of the company's marketing team. And for 2012, Adobe forecasts that this year will break records for retailers, who plan to take advantage of Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving when holiday sales push retailers into the black), Cyber Monday (the following Monday when the focus ships to online shopping), Free Shipping Day (a mid-December shopping promotion), and other online strategies to get you to buy more stuff.
Online sales grow
According to analysis of more than 150 billion Web visits to more than 500 of Adobe's retail clients over the course of six years, Cyber Monday sales are expected to jump 18 percent over the same day last year, and have more than doubled in the last five years.
Black Friday is also going to be a money-maker for online retailers, with a 12 percent increase, according to Adobe.
You may not have heard of Green Monday (December 10, the second Monday in December) or Free Shipping Day (December 17), but retailers see heavy traffic and lots of sales on both days. Free Shipping Day, which is when sites offer free shipping en masse to encourage consumers to finalize their purchases in time for Christmas, may beat Black Friday this year, Adobe predicted. This year is the first that Free Shipping Day falls on a Monday--typically the heaviest-trafficked day of the week on the Web.
Overall, online holiday sales are expected to grow 12 percent over last year and pull in up to $96 billion, according to the National Retail Federation and Shop.org.
Social, mobile drive sales
Social networks and mobile devices are expected to boost holiday traffic to store sites this holiday season. Adobe projects tablets and smartphones to account for 21 percent of online holiday sales, up 110 percent over last year. On Black Friday alone, 24 percent of online traffic will come from mobile devices.
Surprisingly, Black Friday's slow spread into Thanksgiving Day and even earlier is expected to have little effect on the day's revenues. Researcher Tamara Gaffney, senior marketing manager of Adobe's Digital Index, says retailers jumping the gun on early Black Friday sales doesn't have a "statistically significant" effect on anticipated sales. A bigger factor, Gaffney adds, will be the shift to mobile purchases, which will affect Cyber Monday sales.
"As mobile devices become more widespread, then we should see that the Cyber Monday impact declines over time and starts to become more spread out," Gaffney says.
When to buy online
If you keep up with the latest gadgets (their release dates and specs as well as prices), you know that Black Friday usually doesn't offer the best deals on devices. Prices this year on the same or comparable products are actually expected to rise compared to deals offered last holiday season.
Gaffney says the best time to buy electronics online is usually later in the holiday shopping season, during the week before Christmas.
So if Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren't the biggest days for deals, what's driving this uptick in spending? Just look at the calendar, says Matt Langie, senior director of product and solutions marketing for Adobe's digital marketing division.
"The holiday shopping season (this year) is comprised of 33 days between Black Friday and Christmas. That's the longest since 2007," Langie says. "That certainly is going to drive some of the numbers."