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NEW YORK — Smartphones may be among retailers’ strongest allies this holiday season, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends released Monday.
“We anticipate that retailers will increasingly interact with mobile shoppers this holiday season,” stated Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte and retail & distribution sector leader. “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. 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.
“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.”
Armed with their smartphones, these holiday shoppers may also be highly valuable to retailers this season, as they are expected to spend 72% more than those who do not plan to use smartphones, spending a total of $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.
Half of consumers surveyed own smartphones, and 68% plan to use their phones for holiday shopping this year by getting store locations (62%), checking and comparing prices (58%) and obtaining product information (50%).
Online shopping and social media will also play significant roles in the gift-buying season this year. According to Deloitte, 45% of consumers surveyed plan to shop online for holiday gifts. Many shoppers will head to the web to strike a deal, but also to become more informed about the purchases they are making.
More than half of the survey respondents (55%) indicated they often read online reviews before buying holiday merchandise online, and nearly 3 in 10 said they will rely on reviews more this year than last year.
And 48% of shoppers surveyed will make social media part of their holiday shopping process. Among this group, more than half will tap into social networks to look for discounts (54%) and research gift ideas (53%), while 47% plan to read reviews.
When shopping online, 47% of consumers surveyed indicated that low prices are most important when shopping a particular retailer. Online shoppers surveyed also expect some free perks: More than 7 in 10 consumers surveyed said they are more likely to shop online from retailers who offer free shipping, and 56% said the same about retailers who offer free returns.
However consumers might engage technology as they shop for the holidays, in-store service is still critical in enticing consumers to buy at retail. More than 1-in-4 consumers surveyed suggested they would be more likely to shop retailers that offer barcode scanners in the aisles to confirm prices and features. Approximately 1-in-5 seek retailers that offer to ship to their homes (22%) and provide self-service or mobile checkout (19%).
As many as 56% of shoppers surveyed said they will be more likely to purchase from a store retailer that has knowledgeable sales associates. Additionally, 38% of consumers expect store associates to have the ability to match prices.
Four-out-of-10 consumers surveyed indicated that during the holidays, they will be more likely to seek help from store associates in electronics or office supply stores, followed by traditional department stores (26%) and discount stores (22%).
For more information about Deloitte’s annual holiday survey, including additional statistics, historical data and useful links, go to Deloitte.com/us/2012HolidaySurvey.