For last-minute shoppers this holiday season, smartphones were the first item on their wish list thanks to time- and money-saving apps. The National Retail Federation surveyed consumers before Thanksgiving and determined that about 14% of potential shoppers said they would be likely to use mobile devices to shop, which is double than what consumers stated in 2010. Taking that into consideration, the huge success of mobile shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend was no surprise. It is becoming apparent that more consumers are visiting shopping websites through their mobile phones. In fact, a NY Times article reported that Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade goods, increased its number of people that visit its website through mobile devices by more than four times compared to 2010.

The Thanksgiving weekend involved more than just more visits on websites. Ebags, an online shopping website, claims to have increased its sales 49% this year, with about 16% of its sales coming from mobile devices, tablets, and smartphones. Even PayPal claims to have processed 6 times the volume of mobile payments on Cyber Monday than it did last year. IBM Benchmark released statistics of consumer behavior during the Thanksgiving weekend stating that the traffic coming from mobile devices on e-commerce sites were 14.3% on Black Friday resulting in 9.8% of its sales, and 10.8% on Cyber Monday resulting in 6.6.% of its sales.  The convenience of shopping through a handheld device seems to be a growing preference especially during the holiday times where people are spending time with their families and not near any retails stores.

In fact, many retailers offered special mobile promotions that intended to lead consumers away from going to crowded stores and waiting in lines and instead buy their products via their mobile phone. Gilt Groupe, an exclusive website that offers lower priced designer fashions, promoted mobile exclusive deals at 6 a.m. on Black Friday to steer away consumers from rushing to the their high-end competitor locations and avoid being stuck in lines and crowds. And Amazon offered a 5% discount to shoppers who scanned a product with an app at a retail store. Using the mobile ability to sell, online merchants can offer a “relatively annoyance free” alternative for consumers to shop. As the chief executive of Rue La La states, “If we can take advantage of customers when they want to shop and they’re aggravated by a physical experience, it’s a real win-win”. And it is in fact a win-win for companies like Amazon, who claim that the number of American customers that shop only through their mobile device has almost tripled since 2010.

Along with the convenience of getting discounted prices without having to leave home, consumers can save gas money traveling to and from retail locations, especially with the advantage of  “free shipping” deals that are being offered. For the people who are still struggling in the current economy, saving a few dollars makes provides a little more  incentive to shop through mobile phones.  So retail stores beware, this new mobile shopping trend is set and getting stronger.