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Businesses Anticipate Strong Holiday Sales Despite Economic Concerns

image for Nattakorn Maneerat / Getty Images
Nattakorn Maneerat / Getty Images
  • Online sales figures are expected to continue their annual upward trend, with more than 70% of respondents saying they anticipate e-commerce sales increases this year.
  • A significant majority – 72% – said issues like tariffs, the USMCA and Brexit will affect respondents' sales this holiday season.
  • Businesses are willing to do whatever it takes to have a successful holiday season, including some who said they would listen to the Chipmunks sing Christmas carols ad nauseum.

The holidays may feel like a magical time of whimsy for consumers, but for American business owners, the end of the year represents a mad dash to ensure their e-commerce strategies drive sales and expand their global reach. Even though there has been a whirlwind of upheaval in some parts of the world this year that threaten to cause major economic headaches this holiday season, a newly released survey suggests American businesses are confident that online sales will warm up as the temperature gets colder.

Conducted earlier this year by DHL, the 2019 Holiday Shipping Survey was intended to "gain insight into business preparations and expectations for the upcoming holiday season." More than 4,000 DHL customers and other American e-commerce businesses responded to the survey.

Through the survey, researchers found that holiday online spending habits will continue to increase as we head into 2020. According to data from the National Retail Federation released earlier this year, 2018 e-commerce sales during the holidays totaled $126 billion, marking an uptick from the 2017 figure of $108.2 billion. Furthermore, recent data from Bazaarvoice suggests that 63% of global shoppers will "make most of their holiday purchases online."

While confidence in holiday online sales remains strong this year, researchers pointed out that animus between governments around the globe could still make an impact.

 

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To say this year has been a tumultuous one for American and global politics would be an understatement. As major figures across the globe deal with personal and international strife, businesses brace for potential economic blowback.

One major issue on everyone's mind as the year draws to a close is the schism between the United Kingdom and the European Union known as Brexit. While the entire Brexit issue is still largely up in the air, uncertainty on how shipments will be handled once the political and economic divorce is finalized remains a top concern.

Couple that major crisis with the ongoing trade dispute and ensuing tariffs between the U.S. and China, and you have a situation where 72% of respondents expect these global economic issues to impact sales this holiday. Additionally, 24% of respondents said they expect the aforementioned issues to have a "significant impact" on holiday e-commerce figures.

Along with tariffs and Brexit, researchers found that recent developments with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) could affect where businesses look to find additional international markets. Approximately 30% of respondents said they expected most of their sales to come from Europe this holiday season, with 27% coming from Pacific Asia, 25% from Mexico and Canada, and 18% from Central and South America.

Making sure your holidays go without a hitch as a small business owner usually means making sure you have ample stock on hand and doing what you can to keep your customers happy. Researchers found that most American businesses are looking to do the latter by providing fast shipping. When asked what the most important thing was for a successful holiday season, 49% of respondents said fast international delivery was paramount. [Read related article: Shipping Rules and Regulations Your Small Business Might Be Violating]

While covering the logistical side of the holidays is important, researchers found that American business owners are willing to endure a lot to ensure strong e-commerce sales this holiday season. According to the survey, 37% said they would commit significant mental self-harm by subjecting themselves to listening to the Chipmunks Christmas album on repeat if it meant they would see a 50% increase in their holiday sales. Another 27% said they would forfeit their holiday gifts, and 17% said they would volunteer as a mall Santa.

Showing even more dedication, 19% of respondents said they would overeat and gain 10 pounds if it meant better sales.

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.