November 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

Retailers that don’t embrace mobile may lose ground, says study

Even though many consumers will be spending less this holiday season, many will using mobile phones to help them make buying decisions, Yankee Group says. Which is why retailers without mobile, the research firm says, may lose ground.

63% of shoppers will spend less this holiday season because of concerns about the economy, according to the Yankee Group’s Consumer Survey, and that means consumers will shop differently than in previous years. Retailers can capture more of those scarce holiday dollars by effectively communicating with consumers through their mobile phones, says the research firm in a new report entitled “‘Tis the Season: Mobile Retailing Will Transform 2009 Holiday Shopping.”

Yankee Group predicts two dramatic changes in holiday shopping behavior this year. The first is consumers more carefully considering each purchase as they try to maximize every penny they spend, writes study author Christopher Collins, senior analyst. The second change is the emergence of technology-enabled shopping, as increased access to more powerful, and increasingly mobile, consumer technologies empower consumers to make more deliberate and informed purchase decisions anytime and anywhere, he writes.

The combination of these two changes will force retailers to respond: Savvier retailers will embrace technology and emerge from the recession stronger; retailers slow to respond will be punished, the study contends.

There are approximately 19 million more smartphones in the hands of consumers today than there were at the end of the 2008 holiday season, a 50% increase, according to Yankee Group research. 2009 is shaping up to be a dramatically different holiday shopping season because of this, the research firm concludes, and the habits consumers develop in the next several weeks may influence their shopping behavior for years to come.

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