NRF Says: Yes Virginia, There Is An App For That

Mobile commerce will play a huge role during this year’s holiday shopping season, according to National Retail Federation vice president Ellen Davis.

In one of NRF’s Top 10 Holiday Trends released Tuesday, “Yes Virginia, there is an app for that,” Davis says mobile used to be lumped into one category but “we have to look at smart phones and tablets,” she says.

People carry smart phones everywhere, Davis says. Half of all Americans with smart phones will use them for holiday shopping. But that doesn’t always translate to making purchases. It could be to find out store hours, locations, or product information. NRF research shows 16% will actually use the smart phone to make a purchase this holiday season.

Tablets are used differently, Davis says, since most people will use them while sitting in front of the television. About 70% of tablet owners will use it for holiday shopping such as looking for gift ideas and price comparisons.

According to NRF’s survey, tablet owners are twice as likely to use them to make a purchase this holiday season compared to smart phone owners.

“Everyone in retail started getting themselves in a tizzy over the mobile trend and we lumped all the gadgets into the same category,” Davis says. “But what we realized within the last year is that people are using their mobile devices in very different ways. This year, we took a deeper look at consumers’ use of smart phones and tablets, and the results were fascinating. Mobile retail is huge and it’s important to recognize smart phones and tablets,” Davis says.

NRF expects holiday sales to increase 2.8%, to $466 billion – far below last year’s rise of 5.2%. NRF president/CEO Matt Shay says consumer confidence “is not anything close to what we need it to be. People are discouraged by what’s happening in Washington, lack of income growth and job stability.”

Here are some highlights of NRF’s Top 10 Holiday Trends:

  • Nearly seven in 10 online retailers expect their holiday sales to grow at least 15% this year.
  • Multichannel shoppers present the biggest opportunity for retailers. Holiday shoppers who shop in multiple channels will spend 22% more this year than people who are only shopping in a store.
  • While inventory levels are still very lean this year, which may impact availability of top products, retailers have done an incredible job streamlining their supply chains to ensure that they’re maximizing regional or local markets that may be performing particularly well.
  • Six in 10 holiday shoppers have set aside money to make additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves this season. The average person will spend $130 on these purchases, an all-time high and a 16% jump from last year’s $112.
  • According to, a record 92.5% of online retailers will offer free shipping this holiday season – and that’s not only going to be a Cyber Monday staple. Free shipping offers are likely to be found all holiday season long, as 56% of retailers say their budgets for free shipping are higher this holiday season than last and one-third say free shipping offers will start earlier in the season than last year.
  • The dilemma for merchants becomes how to position free shipping? What’s the minimum purchase required for shipping to be free? Which items are included (or excluded)?

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