November 1, 2013, 1:10 PM

Early holiday shoppers are mobile and merry

Among the big spenders, 79% shop with mobile phones.

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While most holiday sales forecasts predict a slight increase in holiday retail spending and most consumers say they’ll spend the same amount as last year or a bit more this season, the question of how and where they’ll spend that money remains. An early October survey of those that started shopping the soonest provides some answers.

It reveals that about a quarter of U.S. consumers started shopping early and have their gift lists at the ready. And these early shoppers are using their mobile devices and some retailers’ newfound willingness to price match to their advantage.

More than 2,100 consumers participated in the survey designed by branding agency SGK Inc. Of that group, 13.6% said they had started their holiday shopping prior to September and another 10.3% said they started in September. “They’re looking for all the right deals, and are using every kind of price check and price match to get them,” says Jim Lucas, executive vice president of global insights at SGK. “[Shopping tools] are making people smart and more efficient shoppers.”

Even though these consumers started shopping early, that doesn’t mean they will finish early. Part of finding the right deal is having the time to find it, Lucas says. The survey says more than half of early shoppers will also shop on the day after Thanksgiving and a quarter will shop during Thanksgiving weekend

And even though they are looking for good deals, 76% of early shoppers say they intend to spend more this holiday season than last year. Of those early shoppers that will spend more, 79% say they use their mobile devices at least occasionally to research products, and 79% of those mobile users that will spend more say they compare and purchase from other retailers’ web sites while shopping in a store. 72% say they will request a price match.

Consumers who say they will spend more will also most actively compare prices and request price matches, the study says. For consumers who say they plan to spend the same, just 18% say they will compare prices and purchase from another retailer’s web site using their mobile device while in a store, and 46% say they will request a price match. For consumers who plan to spend less than last year, just 11% say they will compare prices and purchase from another retailer’s web site using their mobile device while in a store, and 28% say they will request a price match.

Younger shoppers, those age 18-34, will use comparison shopping tools on their mobile phones with more alacrity than older shoppers. 82% of consumers in this age group research items on their mobile devices occasionally or regularly, compared with 60% of those age 35-54 and 32% of those age 55 or older. 75% of the younger shoppers will compare prices and purchase from another retailer’s web site using their mobile devices, whereas 53% of middle-aged shoppers will and 25% of older shoppers. 75% of younger shoppers will request a price match, whereas 46% of middle-aged shoppers will and 25% of older shoppers.  The percentages trend similarly among the age groups for checking in with their mobile phones at retail stores to receive a discount and for scanning quick-response codes to get more product information.

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