With e-commerce sales volumes this season already setting a record-breaking pace, online retail software maker LaGarde expects numbers to soar even higher by the Dec. 3 weekend. The Chicago-based firm, which powers over 50,000 online stores, says its e-cards and e-certificate clients are reporting a surge in sales as the holiday draws nearer.

"Look for anything that can be sold without involving a physical delivery to start to take off next week," says founder Bob LaGarde. He points to Half Price Books, which sells cards online offering discounts at their 85 retail stores and are expecting annual sales to peak next weekend -- a time when revved up holiday shopping in real-world stores starts trailing off.

Last year, over $17 billion in holiday-related sales were attributed to gift certificate purchases, according to the National Retail Federation. And with online retailers increasingly in the mix, they expect the numbers to increase dramatically this year.