The theme this holiday shopping season is frugality. J.P. Morgan analyst Imran Khan expects online sales to be flat this year. In a survey of U.S. consumers conducted by J.P. Morgan, nearly 30 percent of online shoppers say they plan on spending less this year during the holidays than last year.
Nevertheless, online retailers should do better than offline ones. In total, including offline shoppers, 44 percent say they plan on spending less this year (up from 33 percent who responded the same overall last year). But even among those who plan on reducing their total spending, 19 percent still think their online purchases will be higher.
And while only 12 percent of total shoppers plan on spending more money this year, that number is 32 percent for online shoppers — slightly more than the number who are cutting back on their online holiday expenditures.
When it comes to online shopping sites, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) still rules, but Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT) are catching up. About 50 percent of online shoppers say they will shop this year at Amazon, compared to 35 percent at Walmart.com, 32 percent at eBay, and 27 percent at Target.com. In fact, this year could be the first one where Walmart.com surpasses eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) in total number of online shoppers. The survey also indicates that Sears.com (NASDAQ:SHLD) could see a 36 percent increase in shoppers. (Maybe that’s why the site went down today).
Among high income shoppers, however, Amazon is head-and-shoulders above the rest. A full 59 percent of those making more than $100,000 a year shop at Amazon. The nearest competitor in the survey attracts only 33 percent of that income group. No matter what income group respondents fall into, the single most important factor when shopping online is price, followed by selection and familiarity with the store.