Smart phones will have an influence on retail purchasing for Christmas this year and will reach approximately £3.5 billion according to recent research figures. Deloitte are predicting that £330 million of sales will be made directly through smart phones with a further £500 million in sales coming through tablets.

However, it is anticipated that approximately £3.2 billion of in-store sales this Christmas will be influenced by smart phones as cash conscious consumers use their devices to research prices and discuss products prior to purchase with friends and family via social media.

As with recent years the strongest growth will be on-line sales with purchases being completed on mobiles or tablets will double or even triple from 2011.  With the growth in sales of tablets and a high number being received as gifts this Christmas, it will drive a sharp increase in purchases through this type of mobile communication.  However, whilst the purchasing is slower for smart phones the broader influence is far greater.

Forecasted predictions are that 10% of sales made in shops will be influenced via a smart phone in December of this year.  However, by 2016 predictions have been made that this figure will increase to as high as 18% for the full year, which is equivalent to £43b of purchases/sales.

The power of social media is also making its mark with consumers.  More and more consumers are using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to share views and opinions.  Offers for purchasing are now on the increase via social media, which then turns to retailers to start to use social media more often to create buzz and social engagement.  They are also using it as monitoring tool around products to predict demand for items too.

However, Christmas retail sales are expected to edge up just 1% in total this year and, although this puts sales in positive territory, Ian Geddes, UK Head of Retail at Deloitte, warned that this equates to a fall in volume once inflation of 2.5% is taken into account. Geddes added: “We remain cautious on the long-term outlook for UK retail, but there are more reasons to be optimistic than pessimistic this Christmas”.

Consumer confidence has gradually improved during 2012 and despite the recent increase in inflation; it is still much lower than it was 12 months ago, easing the pressure on households. It is still unknown if this will make consumer spend more, consumers are still cautious with spending and currently prefer to save.

Retailers are beginning to focus on stock control and we may now see better use of targeted sales instead of discounts across the whole of stores.

“Shoppers are responding to those retailers that combine the right products with exceptional customer service across all channels, dynamic and exciting online and mobile sites and a brand that they want to be associated with and invest in”.