Americans will spend a record $86 billion on online gift purchases for the 2014 holiday shopping season, a 13 percent spike over last year, according to the latest projections from market research company Forrester Research. Package shippers UPS and FedEx have planned to hire even more seasonal workers than last year to cope with the expected demand, the New York Times reported.
“We started talking to our customers much earlier this year, and we were planning together with them for their volume forecasting,” Susan Rosenberg, a spokesperson for UPS, told the Times. The company expects to ship 585 million packages in December, an increase of 11 percent from last year.
Bad weather and increased online sales in 2013 delayed shipment of millions of gifts during the holiday season. UPS and FedEx said they were caught off-guard by the sheer volume of online purchases, especially last-minute sales, and that this time around, the companies have taken additional steps like adding new package tracking technology and more sorting facilities to avoid a repeat of last year’s setbacks, company spokespeople said. “We’re not going to jeopardize the efficient operations of the network,” Rosenberg told the Times.
The growth of e-commerce in recent years has been driven by the boom in smartphone and tablet use, according to Mashable. Consumers are spending more time online than ever before, increasingly using smartphones to research products, find the best prices and make purchases.
U.S. consumers spent $42.75 billion in the 2013 holiday season from Black Friday through Dec. 22, according to market research firm comScore. That figure represented a 10 percent increase in online purchases from 2012, but the overall amount fell short of expectations. The National Retail Federation has said it expects overall holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent in 2013 to $616.9 billion, higher than the 3.1 percent increase seen in 2013.