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Mobile shopping up, but U.S. lags other parts of the globe

Americans are getting increasingly comfortable using mobile devices to shop.

New data from eMarketer shows that American consumers bought an estimated $48 billion worth of goods and services using mobile devices this year, a surge of 32 percent from year-ago levels. In 2015, mobile accounted for 22 percent of all retail e-commerce sales in the U.S., up 3 points since last year.

Mobile commerce is more widespread in other parts of the globe. In South Korea, for instance, mobile sales accounted for 46 percent of of all retail ecommerce sales and 5.1 percent of total retail sales in 2015, the research firm estimates. In China, nearly 50 percent of retail ecommerce sales and almost 8 percent of all retail sales occurred via mobile devices in 2015, eMarketer projects.


By comparison, usage of mobile devices to make purchases, as opposed to searching for product information, remains modest in the U.S. Mobile commerce represents less than 2 percent of total retail sales. And despite the emergence of mobile payment services from Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Samsung, only 14 percent of U.S. adults planned to buy something using their smartphone this holiday season, according to Bankrate. Even among tech-savvy millennials, the figure was less than 20 percent.

But that digital commerce landscape is changing quickly. ComScore estimates that mobile sales will approach 18 percent of all e-commerce sales this season.

Four major U.S. retailers are leading the way in using mobile commerce: Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY), Target (TGT) and Walmart (WMT). To that end, Walmart, the world's largest retailer earlier this month announced the launch of a mobile payment system that customers can use to buy products via in the company's stores. Target is also reportedly developing an m-payment system.

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