PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- If retailers aren't waiting until Halloween to prepare for the holiday shopping season, what makes you think your fellow shoppers will?
A holiday survey by the National Retail Federation found that more than half (56.3%) of holiday shoppers say they own a smartphone, while more than one-third (34.0%) own a tablet -- both significant leaps from the same time last year. Of those who own a smartphone, 53.8% will use their device to look up store hours, compare prices and buy products, while six in 10 (63.2%) tablet owners will use their device to do the same.
Also, according to Google's (GOOG) research, shopping-related searches from mobile devices were up 59% year over year in July. A full 84% of shoppers use their smartphones in-store as shopping companions, while one in three shoppers turn to their phones instead of asking store employees for help. Last year, shopping-related searches on mobile devices skyrocketed during key sale days, with Black Friday, Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas serving as the three most popular mobile search days for shoppers.
If that makes you think you have plenty of time to get apps loaded and your shopping list sorted out, guess again. Google notes that 49% of holiday shoppers already know what they're buying, with 30% of that group starting their holiday shopping before Halloween.We've already told you that Halloween and Thanksgiving don't provide much of a buffer from Black Friday, never mind its savvy, smartphone-wielding holiday shoppers. If you're looking to catch up or just finish holiday shopping early, here are some apps that can help you through: