A surprising fact was just reported: older consumers are most likely to make holidays purchases online this year.

The study, conducted by Velaro, highlighted some interesting facts that online retailers should keep in mind this holiday season when running promotions and thinking about their target audiences.

The study found that 20 percent of shoppers ages 55-64 and will do some portion of their holiday shopping online, which was the highest percentage from any age group surveyed, followed closely by shoppers age 45-54 (19 percent).

Comparatively, shoppers aged 18-24 were least likely to do holiday shopping online. This is an interesting statistic because it’s often assumed that younger shoppers are more technologically savvy and have a higher tolerance for complicated sites to complete transactions.

So, what does that mean for online retailers? When considering an older audience, it’s important to keep in mind that excellent usability and ease of finding products and navigating through your site will be essential to helping your users make purchases. It’s also helpful to make sure your merchandising shows customers the hottest products and special promotions, such as free shipping and free returns, in a variety of ways such like merchandising banners, ribbon overlays and highly-visual pages full of product images.

Additionally, if you are selling electronics, gaming, apparel and other products aimed at the 18-24-year-old demographic, it might helpful to modify your online marketing strategy and aim promotions at parents, not young adults.

Excellent site usability is necessary for all sites – those targeted toward younger demographics may actually have older shoppers accessing them.

Overall, the trends look good for online retailers; 53 percent of respondents said they intended to do at least 25 percent of their holiday shopping online, and some studies are predicting that holiday shopping this season will be up 15 percent overall from last year.

What are your thoughts on the holiday shopping season so far? Please leave your comments below.