3 Online Retail ETFs for Your Holiday Shopping List

Online spending's share of holiday retail sales might take a small step back in 2021, but for these three retail ETFs, the long-term trend is still their friend.

Gifts surrounding a laptop
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The smell of pumpkin spice is giving way to peppermint. Mariah Carey is getting a spike in her residual checks. Advertisements for Chia Pets are returning to the airwaves.

The holiday season shopping spree has officially begun – and that could be good news for a host of investments, including online retail exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

This year promises to be a bit different than the Black Fridays of yore. The way people shop has been fundamentally changing for years – from physical to digital – but the COVID-19 pandemic was rocket fuel for e-commerce.

We already got a taste of that during the 2020 holiday season, and while Americans won't face nearly the same COVID restrictions they did last year, e-commerce is still expected to play a huge role in late 2021's retail push.

A Deloitte survey shows that Americans plan on spending 62% of their holiday budget online, versus 33% in store (with the remaining 5% being spent via direct mail, catalog and other sources). While that figure is slightly down from last year's record 64%, it's still a clear majority and the second-largest figure ever.

That's great news for owners of e-commerce stocks. And better still for prospective new buyers: Many shares in the industry sit at relatively attractive valuations.

"While Internet & Direct Marketing retailers have historically traded at a premium P/E multiple to the broader consumer discretionary sector, the premium was recently below the historic average, creating a potential buying opportunity using ETFs," says Todd Rosenbluth, Head of ETF & Mutual Fund Research at independent research outfit CFRA.

Here, we look at three online retail ETFs worthy of a closer look, especially as the holiday season approaches. Each represents a different way to slice and dice the industry.

Data is as of Nov. 15.

Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com