Online retailers will have plenty to be cheery about during the holiday season, according to a new survey of online shoppers and retailers. The 2004 Online Holiday Mood Study found that 98% of merchants are anticipating online growth this holiday season. Also, 32% of consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online this year.

Consumers who shop online are more likely to start their holiday shopping earlier than consumers who shop at traditional brick-and-mortar stores. And despite a common misconception that retailers start their holiday promotions earlier every year, 72% plan to begin holiday marketing at the same time as last year. Over half of online retailers (53%) will wait until after Halloween to begin promoting the holiday season, though most online shoppers will have started their shopping nearly a month before. According to the survey, 53% of online shoppers plan to begin their holiday shopping by early October, when only 14% of merchants will have launched their online holiday marketing promotions.

“Online shoppers seem to be leading the charge to start the holiday season earlier every year,” said Scott Silverman, Executive Director of “Online retailers who wait until November to begin holiday promotions might miss out on sales opportunities.”

This year, consumers will be relying on the Internet in a variety of ways. More than half of online shoppers plan to use the Internet more than last holiday season to comparison shop (89%), research gifts for others (86%), buy gifts for others (74%), and buy gifts for themselves (53%).

“The online sector is quickly becoming a one-stop shopping destination for consumers,” said Chuck Davis, CEO of “Even consumers who may ultimately buy in the store are using the Internet to compare prices or research products.”