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More consumers to use mobile devices to comparison shop this holiday season

WASHINGTON — It looks like this year's holiday shoppers have a renewed focus on value and will comparison shop by utilizing smartphones, tablets and mobile applications to make purchasing decisions, according to the latest National Retail Federation Survey.

Although NRF is still forecasting overall holiday retail sales to grow 2.8% to $465.6 billion, the group's 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey — conducted by BIGresearch — found that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from $718.98 recorded in 2010, as the majority of Americans said the economy will affect their spending (62.2%).

To mitigate this, 5.7% said they more frequently would turn to their mobile device to do some comparison shopping, up from 3.7% in 2010, and nearly one-third (32.1%) will comparative shop online more often, up from 30.9% last year.

Comparison shopping via smartphones and tablets also is a big trend this year, with 52.6% of smartphone owners and 70.5% of tablet owners saying they would use their device to research products. Specifically, the survey found that:

31% of smartphone owners and 50.8% of tablet owners said they will research products and/or compare prices;

14.1% of smartphone owners and 34.8% of tablet owners will purchase products;

17.3% of smartphone owners and 21.5% of tablet owners will redeem coupons;

15.6% of smartphone owners and 21% of tablet owners will use mobile apps to research or purchase items; and

About one-quarter of smartphone owners (25.1%) and more than one-third of tablet owners (33.8%) will use their devices to look up retailer information, such as store hours and location.

When it comes to mobile shopping, retailers should expect their biggest wins from adults ages 18 to 24 years, NRF said, noting that Americans in this demographic are the most likely to use their smartphones (72.2%) and tablets (86.4%) to shop for holiday items this year.

“When it comes to retail growth this holiday season, slow and steady wins the race — and the same is true for shoppers, who are meticulously calculating the best ways to stretch their dollar,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Knowing their customers are more focused than ever on value, retailers will entice shoppers with promotions that go beyond discounts, whether they’re promoting free gifts with purchase, an extended warranty, or stellar customer service.”

The survey polled 8,585 consumers between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11.

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