Smartphones Let Consumers’ Thumbs Do Their Holiday Shopping

Smartphones Let Consumers’ Thumbs Do Their Holiday Shopping

While holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year for annual festivities—from stringing lights to hosting friends and family—for most Americans the holidays wouldn’t be complete without shopping!

As consumers are heading out for shop-‘til-they-drop moments at their local supercenter, mall or big box store, they are also seamlessly integrating technology into these habits by snagging deals on the go with the simple click of a button. In fact, according to Nielsen Electronic Mobile Measurement, consumers’ time spent shopping on smartphones has only been increasing with each passing year!

The report found that over 137 million people now use shopping apps on their smartphone device—good news for retailers considering that the average user spent 2 hours and 5 minutes on average on shopping apps per month in fourth-quarter 2014. This is up from around 120 million people using shopping apps, spending an average of 1 hour and 52 minutes per person per month in fourth-quarter 2013. 

The holiday season in particular seems to have spurred a rise in increased usage: The number of mobile shoppers in December rose to 138.1 million users in 2014 from 124.2 million users in December 2013. Consumer time spent shopping on combined web/apps peaked in December 2014 at 2 hours and 54 minutes per person, up from 1 hour and 57 minutes in December 2013. 

With shoppers enjoying the convenience of their smartphones to hunt for bargains, the number of them taking advantage of shopping apps keeps rising. Between fourth-quarter 2013 and fourth-quarter 2014, an average of 101.4 million smartphone users accessed a shopping app, compared with 109.9 million year-over-year as of fourth-quarter 2015.

So who are these push-button shoppers?

This high-tech style of shopping isn’t limited to digital-native Millennials. Over a quarter (26%) of mobile shoppers are 55 and older while 40% are 25-44. The ethnicity of smartphone shoppers is also diverse! Seventy-one percent are white, 18% are Hispanic, 13% are African-American and 5% are Asian-American. In fact, according to Nielsen’s Fourth-Quarter 2014 Mobile Multicultural Insights report, Hispanics showed a stronger inclination to shop via mobile, with 43% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans having engaged in mobile shopping in the past 30 days, compared with 39% of non-Hispanic white smartphone owners.


Nielsen’s Electronic Mobile Measurement is installed with permission on panelist smartphones (approximately 9,000 panelists ages 18+, with Android and iOS handsets). The panelists are recruited online in English and include Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American, Native American and Alaskan Native and other mixed racial background consumer representation.

Data from Mobile Multicultural Insights report is sourced from Nielsen’s Mobile Insights survey, which surveyed nearly 95,000 online U.S. consumers in fourth-quarter 2014, including over 10,000 online Hispanic respondents. A supplemental Spanish-language version of Mobile Insights was conducted via phone in 25 key Hispanic markets to reach Spanish-dominant individuals, capturing over 4,000 Hispanic phone respondents in fourth-quarter 2014. The Mobile Multicultural Insights report also provides in-depth analysis of Hispanic, Asian-American and African-American mobile subscriber attitudes, behaviors and usage.