October 18, 2010, 5:07 PM

A cheery holiday forecast

More consumers will shop online this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

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Nearly 27% of U.S. consumers who own a smartphone will use those mobile devices to research or buy products this holiday season, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation released today. No comparable data was available from last year. The trade group also says that 44% consumers aged 18 and above will shop online for holiday items this year, up from 42.4% last year.

The group based the findings on a survey conducted between Oct. 5 and Oct. 12 of 8,767 consumers. BIGresearch conducted the survey for the trade group.

U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping, a slight rise from last year’s $681.83, the National Retail Federation says.

The survey found that 61.7% of shoppers say the economy will affect their spending, down from last year’s 65.3%. Though gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, more consumers want to receive jewelry this year: 23% of respondents plan to ask for jewelry, up from 20.8% last year.

“Consumers will still shop with the economy in the back of their minds, but we’re starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal,” says Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO. “As Americans open up their wallets for more discretionary gifts like jewelry or take advantage of sales to buy for themselves, retailers will begin to truly believe that the worst may be behind them.”

When it comes to shopping online for holiday gifts and other items, including decorations, men and women are nearly the same, the survey suggests. 44.6% of men plan to shop online, compared with 43.3% of women. Consumers who make at least $50,000 per year will shop online more often than consumers with lower incomes, 55.2% compared with 38.2%. 51.5% of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 plan to shop online for holiday purchases, higher than the percentages for other age groups.

Men seem more eager to use their smartphones to buy or research products, the survey suggest. 30.1% of men who own the mobile devices will use their smartphones for e-commerce this holiday season, compared with 23.2% of women with smartphones. The desire to use smartphones for holiday shopping is higher for consumers with annual incomes of at least $50,000 and those between the ages of 18 and 24.

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