The holiday season is a critical period for most U.S. businesses, especially as more companies leverage the power of e-commerce to expand their international customer base.  With e-commerce sales over the 2018 holidays totaling $126 billion, up from $108.2 billion in 2017, and 63% of shoppers around the world saying they will make most of their holiday purchases online, the holidays present undeniable opportunities for U.S. e-commerce businesses.

To gain more insight into business preparations and expectations for the upcoming holiday season, DHL distributed a survey to its customers and other U.S. e-commerce businesses.

Here are the key findings compiled from the more than 4,000 responses:

Global economic issues are a concern. A large majority (72%) of respondents expect global issues like tariffs, the USMCA, and Brexit will have an impact on their sales over this holiday season. Almost one-fourth (24%) expect these issues to have a significant impact.

Increases in e-commerce sales are still expected. Over 70% of respondents anticipate an increase in e-commerce sales during the 2019 holiday season, compared to the 2018 season. The optimism has decreased slightly from last year, in which 78% expected an increase in e-commerce holiday sales.

Uncertainty with USMCA makes Europe a priority. While holiday sales are typically strong with our neighbors to the North and South (Canada and Mexico), uncertainty about USMCA developments seem to be causing U.S businesses to look at additional international markets. Almost one-third (30%) of respondents said they expect most of their sales to come from Europe this holiday season, 27% said Asia Pacific, 25% said Mexico/Canada and 18% said Central and South America.

Fast international delivery is a must. When asked what is most important for a successful holiday season, almost half (49%) of respondents said fast international delivery services.

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Businesses are willing to do whatever it takes. All respondents were willing to go to great lengths if it guaranteed an extremely successful holiday season.

  • 37% would listen to the Chipmunks Christmas album on repeat if it would guarantee a 50% increase in their holiday sales
  • 27% would forgo all their holiday gifts
  • 19% would overeat and gain 10 pounds
  • 17% would volunteer as Santa at the mall

These findings suggest that despite global trade concerns, businesses are optimistic about the holiday season and it will remain the most profitable e-commerce shopping period of the year. Working with an experienced logistics partner to ship internationally during the holiday season can help companies navigate these global issues as well as complex Customs rules and varying shipping deadlines. DHL is committed to assisting its customers as they begin or continue to expand their businesses beyond U.S. borders.

Click here to view the full survey results and let us know on Twitter at @DHLUS how you are preparing for this holiday season.