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Nov. 21, 2014

Deck the halls with iPads and smartphones

Whether it’s buying online or using your smart phone to compare prices, technology is making it easier for holiday shoppers to find the perfect gift.

Patricia Huddleston, a Michigan State University professor of advertising and public relations, said about 44 percent of all holiday gifts will be bought online this year.

More than half of this year’s holiday shoppers – around 56 percent of us – will shop online. “That’s up from last year’s 52 percent,” she said.

This year many more of us will use our mobile devices to make shopping a bit more convenient.

“Pretty much every big store has an app from which consumers can actually shop,” Huddleston said. “You can download coupons, compare prices or order items that the store doesn’t have in stock.”

Online buying helps another segment of the economy – companies that deliver the goods. Huddleston said both Federal Express and UPS are expected to hire another 90,000 employees per company this season.

Overall, it looks to be a good year. Huddleston said the National Retail Federation predicts more than $617 billion will be spent this holiday season. The average American will spend around $800 this year, covering items such as gifts, food and decorations, but not travel.

Although many of the larger retail stores will be opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening – called by some Black Thursday, that doesn’t have much of an effect on overall sales.

“It’s an image thing,” Huddleston said. “It’s all about matching your competition.”

Not everyone is pleased with the Black Thursday phenomenon. Huddleston said there is even a website called

“It has nearly 100,000 ‘likes,’” she said. “But when you consider the highly coveted over-18 demographic is something like 234 million, it doesn’t really make much of a difference.”


By: Tom Oswald

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