Shopping by smartphone this holiday season

Source: Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

As shoppers gear up for another mad holiday scramble, smartphones and tablet computers are emerging as Santa's electronic helpers. And if the big guy up north isn't in touch with the times, shoppers are. Stuck in a humdrum economy and facing continued high rates of unemployment, consumers are increasingly finding that their mobile devices can come in handy. With a gadget in hand, shoppers can compare prices, research gift ideas, redeem electronic coupons and watch for special deals. Often, they do it right in the store aisle. Retailers are catching on — just in time for the holiday season, the make-or-break time of year. Once content to simply sell these electronic devices, merchants and mall operators are now recognizing the increasingly important role phones and tablets are playing for shoppers and are eager to tap into this electronic path to consumers' wallets.

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