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Mobile mindset key to a Merry Christmas

Smartphones will be retailers’ friend this holiday season, according to Deloitte’s annual survey of spending intentions and trends.

Half of consumers surveyed own smartphones and nearly seven-in-10 plan to use them for holiday shopping this year, according to the online survey on 5,089 consumers conducted during the 10-day period that began Sept. 14. These shoppers will primarily use their devices to get store locations (62%), check and compare prices (58%) and obtain product information (50%). These consumers are expected to shell out 72% more than those who do not plan to use smartphones, spending a total $1,428 on the holidays across categories including gifts, entertaining at home, socializing away from home, non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings and other holiday spending.

"Deloitte's research into smartphones' influence on in-store sales indicates that the conversion rate for shoppers who use a retailer's dedicated mobile application is 21% higher than those who do not," Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "This holiday season, branded applications, Wi-Fi connectivity and personalized, location-based promotions from retailers can enable shoppers to make an immediate buying decision in the store."

This year, Deloitte anticipates that in-store sales influenced by consumers' smartphone use will account for $36 billion, or 5.1% of total holiday retail store sales.

Among the other findings:

  • Nearly half of consumers plan to shop online for holiday gifts and where they will also read reviews before buying. One in three plan to rely on reviews more this year than last year.
  • Nearly half of shoppers will make social media part of their holiday shopping process by tapping into social networks for discounts, to research gift ideas and read reviews.
  • When shopping online, 47% of consumers indicate that low prices are most important when shopping a particular retailer. Online shoppers also expect some free perks in the form of shipping and returns.
  • Despite the emphasis on mobile, social and online, in-store service still matters. Four out of 10 consumers indicate that during the holidays, they are more likely to seek help from store associates in electronics or office supply stores followed by traditional department stores and discount stores.

"The store continues to be central to holiday shopping, but its role and that of the store associate is evolving as the physical and virtual shopping experiences merge," Paul said. "Associates should be more informed and empowered than in the past; they should have the ability to make price-matching decisions on the spot, and be well-versed on promotions and products that customers are viewing via the retailer's mobile and online channels."

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