Never mind the post-election retail slump. Forecasters such as the National Retail Federation and Deloitte are still expecting a blockbuster holiday shopping season this year.

The NRF is predicting that holiday-related sales will grow 3.6% in 2016, just above above the 3.4% growth that holiday sales have been showing since 2009. Consulting firm Deloitte is even more upbeat. Citing a strong labor market and elevated consumer confidence, Deloitte says holiday sales will grow anywhere from 3.6 to 4% this year, and that ecommerce sales will rise an impressive 17 to 19%.

For Retailers, It Spells One Thing: Opportunity

With masses of new shoppers visiting stores both online and off, the challenge is not only how to convert them just this once, but how to retain them as long-term customers who become loyal to your brand.

There are two predominant trends affecting retailers’ ability to retain these customers and generate long-term value from them: the emergence of a new wave of late-adopters who are finally purchasing from mobile devices; and customers’ expectations that brands will embrace a fully-cross channel communications strategy. Our holiday playbook available for download now presents five strategies retailers can use to capitalize on both of these trends:

  • Optimizing the mobile experience
  • Rescuing abandoned shopping carts
  • Re-calibrating personalization efforts for the holidays
  • Diversification of discounts
  • Streamlining the checkout experience

Utilizing these strategies, digital marketers will have the ability to maximize conversion on key shopping days, as well as keep those newly acquired customers over cyber weekend coming back through the rest of the holiday season. The opportunities extend well after cyber weekend, making it possible to generate significant gains in December, and even January, highly profitable to your total holiday revenue haul. 

The Cyber Weekend Forecast

About 137 million people say they intend to shop on cyber weekend, including nearly eight in ten millennials, according to the NRF. Here’s when they’ll be most active:

  • Thanksgiving Day: 21% of weekend shoppers plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day. That’s nearly the same as last year’s 22%.
  • Black Friday: 74% of weekend shoppers say they’ll be shopping on Black Friday, which is projected to be the busiest shopping day of the long weekend
  • Small Business Saturday: A hefty 47% of weekend shoppers will be browsing and buying on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with 24% saying they’ll be doing so specifically to support Small Business Saturday.
  • Sunday: 24% of weekend shoppers expect to be active on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
  • Cyber Monday: About 36% of all consumers say they’ll shop on cyber Monday. These shoppers are not counted in the National Retail Federation’s 137 million total for the long weekend. That’s up slightly from the 34% who said they’d shop on cyber Monday last year.

While this is a once-a-year flood of shoppers, that doesn’t mean your efforts to entice them should end with the turkey leftovers. The NRF says that 15% of customers won’t start shopping until December, and an additional 3% will wait until the last two weeks in December. Plus, some 69% of women and 53% of men say they’d like to receive gift cards for the holidays.

That means the bump in spending –and the opportunity to convert browsers into loyal customers — will continue well into the new year.