NEW YORK (Credit.com) — Projections for holiday retail spending are watched closely every year, with consumer spending during the biggest shopping season of the year seen as a strong indicator for consumer sentiment. While sales growth was sluggish in the wake of the recession, it’s shown strong growth in recent years; in 2011, holiday sales increased by 5.6% over the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, the organization projects a more modest sales growth of 4.1%.
But while overall holiday spending growth tends to bounce around in the low single digits, there’s one thing you can count on year after year: Online shopping will grow like gangbusters. This year, as in past years, the NRF expects that online sales during the holiday season will see double-digit growth. Total online sales are projected to grow 12%, to as much as $96 billion. In a statement, NRF President Matthew Shay attributed the strong growth partly to online retailers improving their offerings on mobile devices.
Whether you’re shopping on a laptop or a tablet, though, it’s important to remember that buying online carries with it certain risks of identity theft and fraud. While the credit card you hand to the cashier can be secretly swiped in a skimming device to steal your info, it’s a lot easier to pull off a similar theft online if you (and the retailer with which you do business) aren’t taking proper precautions.