Unemployment is up, Consumer confidence is down, is this really the season to be jolly?! If ever we needed retail therapy its now! And shoppers have gone to the couch in huge numbers…with laptops in hand. Google search driven traffic is up nearly 30% over last year in categories like Home Furnishings, Home Improvement, Consumer Electronics and Jewelry and Watches. Even Apparel and Office Supply search driven traffic is up almost 25% year over year.

If predictions by the National Retail Federation ring true the forecasted holiday sales growth in Retail overall will be hovering around 2%. But for online retail the outlook is a bit more festive with Forrester Research predicting retail sales this holiday season will grow 12%. Online will play a role in 86% of the upcoming holiday shopping season both as a research tool and to make purchases; beating out "in-store" (54%) 2008 Google/OTX Holiday Shopping Intentions Study . According to the latest Internet Retailer survey, 81% of retailers believe their holiday web sales will grow this season. Shop.org reports, in their 2008 eHoliday Study conducted by Shopzilla, that 56% of online retailers expect their holiday sales will grow at least 15% year over year.

So what can retailers do to channel Dr. Phil? Shoppers are beginning their holiday research and shopping earlier this year so make sure your sites are ready to accommodate the increased traffic. Free shipping and promotions are already in full swing. To ensure you are there when and where shoppers are looking for you don't cap your search budgets (would you close your doors at 2pm because there were too many people trying to enter your store -- we know Dr. Ruth wouldn't). Consumers are expected to spend more time researching this holiday season, so give these info hungry shoppers everything they need. According to Shop.org, 33% of retailers have added reviews and 43% have added video to their sites. If you have product videos load them up on YouTube, its free and a great way to reach consumers. Lastly, if you are reading this post you are probably already know all about search but don't ignore the power of display advertising. Search is great and Display is great but together they are like Frasier and Niles.