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Deloitte: Holiday shoppers use smartphones, stay local

New York -- Increasing smartphone ownership is taking more consumers down the digital shopping route, while many shoppers plan to frequent local small businesses when visiting stores this holiday season. According to the Deloitte Annual Holiday Survey overall smartphone ownership has risen to 61% of respondents from 42% two years ago.

Women, younger generations and households earning less than $100,000 annually showed the most significant leaps in smartphone ownership, expanding the base of shoppers that retailers can access via mobile devices. For example, nearly six-in-10 (59%) of women surveyed own smartphones, up from 46% last year, and 79% of consumers ages 18-24 own a smartphone.

Among smartphone owners, nearly seven-in-10 (68%) plan to use their devices for holiday shopping. These consumers will primarily use smartphones to search for store locations (56%), check and compare prices (54%) and obtain product information (47%).

Consumers that use smartphones to assist in holiday shopping plan to spend 27% more on holiday gifts than non-smartphone owners. The survey also found a significant number of consumers expecting to shop using their tablets. Among the 38% of respondents that own tablets, nearly two-thirds (63%) indicate they plan to use it for holiday shopping this year, with "shop or browse online" ranking as the top activity.

This year, two-thirds (66%) of shoppers plan to shop locally at small businesses, independent retailers or boutique shops which are not part of national chains. The survey indicates that one-third (34%) of consumers' budgets will be spent at local stores. Among the reasons for shopping locally, consumers cite desire to support the local economy (60%), to find one-of-a-kind gifts (53%) and because it is more convenient (44%). Nearly one-third (30%) report having greater loyalty for the local store compared to national chains.

More than half (54%) of shoppers say that knowledgeable store associates will lead them to making an in-store purchase, and 32% of shoppers feel store associates can provide customers a better shopping experience when equipped with the latest mobile technologies. Yet, nearly six-in-10 (59%) shoppers feel they are better connected to consumer information, including coupons, competitive pricing and product availability, than store associates.

Retailers also benefit from providing shoppers with self-help technology in the store. Nearly six-in-10 (58%) of shoppers will use self-help technologies, the most common being price checkers (60%) and self-checkout payment lanes (57%).

"Tablets are a two-way street for retailers," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "They have opened up an entirely new consumer touchpoint, where shoppers can view multiple retailers' products regardless of their location, from their couch to the point of purchase.  Retailers can also put tablets to work in their stores, providing both their sales team and customers with a broader lens into merchandise selection.  Now that the majority of consumers also own smartphones, these two devices have altered the way they interact with a brand, while also yielding a higher spend per customer."


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