According to comScore, holiday e-commerce spending – for the first 20 days of the November to December 2011 season – is already up 14 percent.

The internet marketing research company is forecasting that the total online retail spending for the holiday season will reach $37.6 billion, which is a 15 percent increase from last year’s season.

comScore recently surveyed 1,000 consumers to determine sentiment in regard to the holiday shopping season. One of the reasons for the increase is spending is due to retailers’ advertising and promotional activity. Of those surveyed, 33 percent indicated that there are more discounts, sales, and promotions this year over last.

One of the biggest motivators for online shopping is free shipping. Seventy-six percent of consumers said that free shipping is a major incentive. It’s worth noting that 47 percent said that they would “abandon a purchase” if they found out that free shipping wasn’t an option.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner and many consumers are turning to online retailers for price comparisons and to escape the lines. Larger sites like Amazon will undoubtedly offer holiday deals, but it’s advantageous for small businesses to promote deals and offer discounts through your social media outlets – including Twitter and Facebook. It might also be worth offering a special through Foursquare for those consumers that do brave the lines.

[Via: TechCrunch, Image credit: Carl Malamud]