April 20, 2011, 4:16 PM

Consumers disappointed with in-store shopping use online tools to find deals

60% of consumers say they’re searching online more to get the best price.

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Consumers are noticing cutbacks in the stock and service levels at bricks-and-mortar retailers and say good deals are getting harder to find, according to a recent survey from Deloitte LLP. In response, consumers are more often using online shopping tools and mobile applications that can help them find the products they want at the best prices, the consulting firm says.

Consumers say retail stores today are providing them with less value for their money than a year ago, the survey says. While 45% of consumers surveyed last spring said retail stores were offering them more value for their money, that dropped to 27% in the latest survey of 1,050 U.S. consumers conducted in early March. More than half (54%) of consumers surveyed this year say there are fewer salespeople available to help them with their shopping, and nearly a third, 32%, say retail stores are running out of stock faster.

These changes, combined with sustained concerns about the economy and rising costs, helped contribute to the 60% of consumers who say they’re going online more often to find the best products and prices. 43% of consumers with web-enabled smartphones say they’ve used their phones while inside stores to assist them with their shopping, such as to check prices, read product reviews and look for promotions. 40% of consumers say they’ve interacted with retailers via social networking sites to find out about promotions, products and recommendations.   

“The recession has redefined the consumer’s relationship with retailers, and social and mobile applications have accelerated that change,” says Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail sector leader at Deloitte. “Consumers are making more deliberate, informed decisions using a variety of tools and data. This presents a challenge for retailers to enhance both the in-store and online experience.”

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