Consumers set to spend more this spring, Deloitte says

Increase in digital, mobile activity noted

NEW YORK — Consumers this spring are planning to spend the same or more at retail than last year, according to the latest Deloitte survey.

In its 2012 Spring Consumer Pulse survey, Deloitte found that more than two-thirds of consumers surveyed (67%) said they plan to spend the same or more, a 9% increase from 2011, with many of them feeling slightly better about the economy than this time last year (57% versus 52% last year).

When it comes to where these respondents plan to shop, almost two-thirds (65%) said they're shopping more online to get the best product or price, an increase of 13 percentage points from 2010. Deloitte also noted a boost in social networking and mobile activity, as 46% of smartphone owners indicated they have used phones to research product prices online — an increase of 10 percentage points from 2011 — while 45% of respondents said they're interacting with retailers through social networking sites, the research firm said.

Despite these sentiments, inflation remains a top concern, Deloitte said. When asked what might cause them to hold back spending in the months ahead, 76% said higher prices generally, followed by higher energy costs (69%) and higher medical bills (44%). Similarly, 80% said they expected to spend more on food this year, while 52% agreed that new spring merchandise seems to have higher prices.

The 2012 Spring Consumer Pulse survey was conducted between March 5 and 7 and included a nationally representative sample of 1,000 consumers.

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