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Holiday shopping on mobile apps? No thanks, say Canadians in poll

A reporter demonstrates a shopping app in front of an Old Navy store in San Francisco. Smartphones can scan bar codes and offer real-time discounts but most Canadians won't bother using apps while shopping this holiday season, a new survey suggests.

Jeff Chiu/AP

Smartphones can scan bar codes and offer real-time discounts but most Canadians won't bother using apps while shopping this holiday season, a new survey suggests.

About 70 per cent of those surveyed weren't planning to use a mobile application or feature to help buy gifts, according to the results of a poll commissioned by wireless carrier Mobilicity.

Smartphone apps can give users notifications of what discounts are being offered in a mall and at what stores, said Anthony Booth, Mobilicity's chief customer officer.

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"The real astute users are the people who have figured out how to take advantage of things in real time by using their smartphone," Mr. Booth said from Toronto.

Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, has come to Canada and generally marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Apps such as TGI Black Friday and Black Friday Deals and Coupons allows smartphone users to search from thousands of discounts.

Mr. Booth said even though Canadians do a lot of online research and price comparison, app adoption is about a year behind the United States. He expects more uptake by Canadians in 2013.

But the survey did find that 43 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds planned on using features and apps on their mobile phones to help with holiday shopping.

Marta Tryshak, creator of lifestyle and fashion website, has been using her smartphone for four years to find the best prices and said it's a must for Black Friday and other holiday shopping.

"Those are the times when you have to have a strategy when it comes to shopping, otherwise you will be overwhelmed," said 24-year-old Ms. Tryshak.

"There's no better way to do so than just checking on your phone. You never know what you will find in a store, so you can't tug along your laptop."

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Ms. Tryshak is currently using the Shop Savvy bar code scanner app, Instagram app for photo sharing of products, and microblogging site Twitter.

She also likes the U.S. app Shopkick, which gives rewards and offers for simply walking into stores. Macy's Inc., Target Corp., Old Navy Inc. and Toys "R" Us Inc. offer Shopkick rewards.

She said she has saved at least 25 per cent on most items she has bought by using her smartphone.

Telecom analyst Troy Crandall said he was surprised by the survey's finding of low app use because about 65 per cent of new wireless customers are opting for smartphones.

Apps can cut down on shopping time and effort, said Mr. Crandall, of Montreal-based MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.

"It's quick and easy price comparison and I would say that's the major advantage there, especially in the holiday season where crowds get crazy and it's hard to move around and get from place to place," he said.

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The online survey of 1,514 Canadians was done between Oct. 15-17 by Leger Marketing and its margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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