Windsor Star

Christmas shopping going digital

- MISTY HARRIS

Canadians will be putting the “i” in Christmas this season, but it has nothing to do with greed.

According to a new national survey, half of all iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and other smartphone owners plan to use the pocket devices for holiday shopping, with heavy concentrat­ion on price comparison­s, locating stores, checking inventory, seeking coupons and reading reviews. Fully 12 per cent will use a smartphone to actually purchase an item.

Hope Santa has a good wireless carrier.

The Google Canada data represents a significan­t sea change in the way we shop, and dovetails with a recent Nielsen Online report stating that “in just five years, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web-access device.”

“It’s all about immediacy,” says Andrea Wilkie, senior account manager with Google Canada. “People want the informatio­n they want when they want it.”

Products most likely to be purchased online over Christmas include travel (50 per cent), books, magazines and entertainm­ent items (15 per cent), electronic­s (10 per cent), jewellery (10 per cent), and home-related goods (seven per cent). Other holiday buys run the gamut from toys to fashion, cosmetics to pet gear.

The survey, which taps about 1,000 consumers, also finds that three-quarters of smartphone users are likely to download a holiday shopping app, with 42 per cent being either “extremely” or “very” inclined to do so.

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians using their phones for holiday shopping will be doing so from within a brick and mortar store.

“That’s huge,” says Wilkie. “It’s a real opportunit­y for manufactur­ers to put out (mobile) informatio­n about their features, for consumers to write online reviews, and for other retailers to say, ‘This is our price, and we have that product in stock at the store down the street from you.’”

Between late 2008 and mid-2010, Nielsen reports that the percentage of Canadians using their phones to go online climbed from 16 per cent to 27 per cent — a number they say can “easily” be expected to double with increased ownership.

“With more smartphone­s in consumer hands comes more access to the Internet, which means more potential for consumers to shop online using their phones,” says Carman Allison, director of industry insights for Nielsen.

A survey released this week by eBay Canada finds the top motivation­s for shopping online are saving time, avoiding crowds and finding the best prices. And because hitting stores in person encroaches that much more on schedules, fully 21 per cent of Canadians say they’ve considered calling in sick to do their holiday shopping — with six per cent admitting they’ve actually done so.

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