November 20, 2012, 12:27 PM

A new Thanksgiving tradition: mobile shopping

28% of smartphone and tablet owners will use the devices to shop on Thanksgiving.

Lead Photo

Shoppers may be thankful for their mobile devices, and retailers have reason to agree. More than a quarter—28%—of U.S. adults who own tablets and smartphones say they plan to use them to make purchases on Thanksgiving, up from 16% last year, according to an online survey by global brand agency Digitas. The survey on Thanksgiving Day mobile use polled 2,059 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older between Nov. 5 and 7.

A separate survey shows mobile devices will play a role throughout the holiday season. 87% will use a mobile device to make a purchasing decision this holiday season and 50% will make a purchase with a smartphone or tablet, according to the survey of 1,000 adults by Sybase 365, part of software company SAP AG, and the Mobile Marketing Association, a trade group. In a similar survey last year, only 62% said they would use a mobile device for holiday shopping.

Students will be more active on mobile devices than others at the dinner table—if parents can get them there, the poll also finds. While 38% of students in the survey report they plan to shop via a mobile device on Thanksgiving, 22% say they are likely to decline a dinner invitation altogether if they will not be allowed to use mobile devices there.

More than a third of survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 say they have or plan to use mobile devices for Thanksgiving preparations, 40%, compared with 29% of all respondents.

After Thanksgiving passes holiday shopping ramps up and Walgreen Co., No. 33 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is offering special incentives to appeal to mobile consumers. The drugstore is sharing a mystery Black Friday mobile coupon via its app that consumers can redeem in stores.

From Friday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 25, consumers who open the Walgreens mobile app will find a coupon on the home screen that they can swipe open to reveal a deal such as a discount on Starbucks Doubleshot Energy Coffee or other products, the retailer says.

During that same period, consumers also will be able to enter a Black Friday drawing for 1 million Balance Rewards points via the app to redeem in stores or online. Walgreen announced its Balance Rewards loyalty program in September.

The retailer updated its app for the holidays, too, adding a QuickPrints function to allow shoppers to print photos at Walgreens directly from their mobile devices, store settings for local shopping, in-store maps, seasonal guides and holiday card templates that consumers can customize via the app and print out in a store, the company says.

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