Department stores and discount retailers remain the most popular shopping destinations for holiday shoppers this year, according to a Gallup poll released today. But the number of online shoppers this holiday season continues to trend upward, Gallup said, with 53% of respondents indicating they are either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to use the Internet for their gift-shopping needs.
When Gallup conducted its "Where Americans Do Their Christmas Shopping" study in 1998 -- the first time since the poll's inception in 1993 that online shopping was included -- department stores were favored by an 87% to 10% margin over online retailers. The gap between traditional department stores and online shopping continues to narrow, with only 21 percentage points now separating the two.
The ongoing shift to online shopping should be a boon for online-retailer leaders like Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), which generates its highest revenues during the holiday season. Of Amazon's $61.09 billion in annual net sales in 2012, $21.27 billion came during the all-important holidays.
Online retailers like Amazon aren't the only beneficiaries of increased Internet shopping. Many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, including industry-leading Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), are aggressively pushing for more online sales. Though Wal-Mart has historically not given specific online Internet revenue figures, industry pundits are estimating it will generate $10 billion in sales in 2013 and spend approximately $430 million in e-commerce-related expenses.