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Mobile Driving 22% of Shoppers to Stores

Gallup survey finds mobile both helps and hurts retailers.

Mobile technology is reshaping shopping habits among Americans, but perhaps not in the ways many assume — with smartphones and tablets driving 22 percent of consumers to shop in stores more often, according to a new survey from Gallup.

And, perhaps counterintuitively, younger shoppers who are usually seen as more tech savvy appear more store-bound then the well-to-do (who are perhaps better positioned to buy expensive gadgets to use for shopping).

But while some shoppers use their smartphones to help them shop, others use them to bypass stores entirely. Nineteen percent of the 855 employed adults who took part in the survey last month said mobile technologies caused them to reduce the amount of shopping they do in stores. The vast majority of respondents — 59 percent — reported that mobile technology had not changed their shopping habits.

The statistics amount to a front-line report from the technology wars and appear to show a relative stalemate with both mobile devices and retailers’ use of technology to target consumers growing in sophistication.

“At this point, with roughly seven in 10 Americans using some form of mobile technology, the effects of mobile technology on in-store retail shopping seem to balance each other out, at least based on consumers’ self-reports,” wrote Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones on the group’s Web site.

According to the survey, 29 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said that mobile led them to an increase in their store shopping, while 15 percent of that age group said it had caused a decrease.

Why younger shoppers are skewing more heavily toward stores than the population overall is unclear, but Gallup did note that other research has shown the age group is much less likely to have a credit card, limiting their online shopping options.

Conversely, Gallup said upper-income Americans were the only income group reporting that mobile had caused a net decrease in their in-person retail shopping. Twenty-eight percent of this group said they were shopping less at stores, as opposed the 23 percent who said they were shopping more.

“That upper-income Americans are more likely to report their retail shopping habits have been affected by mobile technology is consistent with the finding that upper-income Americans are more likely to possess technology devices such as smartphones and tablets,” Jones wrote.

While the study explores shopping habits, it does not delve into how much Americans are spending in which channel.

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