'Showrooming' Shoppers May Be Santa's Little Helpers This Holiday Season . / Credit: Showroom shopper image via Shutterstock

Instead of eyeing smartphone-toting "showrooming" shoppers as modern Grinches bent on stealing Christmas, retailers should welcome them with open arms and mobile apps, a new holiday shopping forecast suggests. Showroomers are more likely to make an in-store purchase than other shoppers, research shows.

Driven by consumers' store-related smartphone activity, such as product research, price comparison and mobile applications use, mobile-influenced saleswill account for 5.1 percent, or $36 billion, in retail store sales this year during the holiday season, according to a 2012 holiday sales forecast released today by Deloitte, a professional services firm that provides consulting services to the retail and distribution industry.

Rather than fearing the showrooming effect, retailers that welcome smartphone shoppers in their stores with mobile applications and Wi-Fi access can be better positioned to accelerate their in-store sales, said Alison Paul, vice chairwoman of Deloitte and retail and distribution sector leader.

Recent Deloitte research suggests that shoppers armed with smartphones are 14 percent more likely to make a purchase in the store than those who do not use a smartphone as part of their in-store behavior, she said.

Overall, Deloitte expects that total holiday sales will climb to between $920 billion and $915 billion, representing a 3.5 to 4 percent increase in November through January sales over last season. This growth rate is several notches below last year's 5.9 percent gain.

Deloitte also expects that retailers will implement true omni-channel pricing strategies this year, as opposed to disparate or reactionary strategies of the past, Paul said. As a result, consumers should see more price transparency across mobile, online and store channels, and retailers will use these same channels to gain insights into their core customers' behavior.

"Retailers that interpret and respond to real-time information about shoppers can hit the right notes on pricing and promotions that drive traffic without eroding margins," she said. "The mobile channel is a powerful customer engagement tool, enabling retailers to capture a shoppers' attention at the point of purchase, while gleaning valuable information about shopper behavior, regardless of the shoppers' location."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.