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Online shopping expected to grow 33 percent in November and December

That means consumers would be wise to do their shopping early

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Photo (c) PeopleImages - Getty Images
You’ve heard that online shopping has surged since the pandemic began, and you’ve likely increased the amount of stuff you’ve bought online. But you might be surprised at how much it’s increased and what’s coming in the next two months.

A new forecast from Adobe Analytics predicts online sales in November and December to surge by one-third to a record $189 billion. Based on online transactions reported by 80 retailers, the report expects two years of growth in online shopping to be packed into this holiday season.

There are things that could increase the forecast, including a worsening of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that forces brick and mortar stores to close their doors, at least temporarily. That would give shoppers fewer alternatives other than making online purchases.

“It’s just incredible,” Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product and platform at Adobe, told CNBC. “If you would have asked me last year that we’d be talking about 33 percent growth, I would have said you were crazy.”

Busy days ahead

Every day between now and Christmas could put those early Cyber Mondays to shame. Adobe’s forecast says the holiday shopping season is likely to have 18 days in which online shoppers spend more than $3 billion. Last year, excluding the period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, there were three such days.

The forecast also predicts Black Friday will be a busy online shopping day, with many consumers saying away from crowded stores. In fact, Amazon, Walmart, and Target -- along with many other retailers -- are spreading out their holiday bargains throughout November with more online promotions than in years past.

Those major retailers may get some extra competition this year from small and independent retailers that don’t normally rely on online shoppers.  Adobe reports small retailers that normally do about $10 billion to $50 billion a year in online sales could see that number rise 107 percent this year.

Shop and ship early

What all this means for consumers is a need to keep an eye on the calendar. All those online purchases will have to be delivered through existing delivery channels, which will have difficulty expanding capacity fast enough to meet the crushing demand.

Shipping companies recently released their holiday shipping deadlines, urging consumers to send their packages early if possible. 

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says Dec. 14 will probably be its busiest day for online shipping, with more than 13 million consumers predicted to visit its website for help. A half-million people are expected to use Click-N-Ship, which allows you to pay for postage and print shipping labels.

To save time and money, USPS suggests using Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, which are free and available at local Post Offices or online at usps.com/freeboxes. Shippers may also schedule a free package pickup by mail carriers on their regular delivery route, or a pickup can be scheduled at usps.com/pickup.

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