Mobile Apps Changing Consumer Shopping Habits

Consumer use of mobile devices to compare products and prices and find deals will be more important than ever during the 2014 holiday weekend.

mobile devices and holiday shopping

A record-breaking 103.3 million Americans will shop online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday this year, an increase of 6.1 million shoppers over 2013, according to a survey released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The report found that, in total, 143 million U.S. consumers plan to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with 89 million U.S. adults planning to buy consumer technology products.

Consumer use of mobile devices to compare products and prices and find deals from retailers will be more important than ever during the 2014 holiday weekend.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of consumers expect to use their smartphones, cell phones or tablets while shopping during the weekend, the highest total recorded by CEA’s annual survey.

"Consumers are becoming more comfortable with the security protocols and in using new payment options as they are being introduced to the marketplace," Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s chief economist, told eWEEK. "There are more options and choices for consumers to make payments than ever before."

Of those planning to use mobile devices over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, 77 percent plan to use their mobile devices to compare prices and get more information about products before making purchases, and 62 percent will compare prices of products in-store to help them purchase gifts.

Additionally, 65 percent will look to receive special offers or discounts from retailers, and 62 percent will search for coupons on their devices.

Also, registering for the first time in CEA’s survey this year, nearly one in five consumers using a mobile device to help them shop (18 percent) anticipate paying for a purchase in-store using their mobile device, like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

The study indicated that Black Friday again will be the most popular online shopping day, as 24 percent of those surveyed say they plan to shop that day, four percentage points higher than 2013.

By comparison, 19 percent say they’ll shop online on Cyber Monday–a two percentage point increase from last year. Black Friday also will be the most popular day for in-store shopping, with 28 percent of those surveyed planning to shop the day after Thanksgiving–on par with 2013, but five percentage points less than 2012 (33 percent).

The organization expects 36 percent of U.S. adults–89 million Americans in all–to buy electronics products between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, a five percent increase over 2013 (31 percent), with tablets leading the list for the second year in a row, followed by televisions and notebook computers.

"While it is high on consumer wish lists, the tablet market is definitely slowing," DuBravac noted. "It will still be an important market this holiday season but the growth rate has slowed significantly as market penetration increases."

He also mentioned that consumers are definitely using social media as part of their broad holiday shopping strategies.

"It’s not surprising to see a six percent point increase over 2013 with 29 percent of U.S. adults planning to use social media to learn about sales and deals," DuBravac said.