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Mobile app shopping is set to explode as Klarna, Afterpay, and others fuel holiday boom

American consumers are poised to spend more than 900 million hours buying goods from their phones this winter.

Mobile app shopping is set to explode as Klarna, Afterpay, and others fuel holiday boom
[Source images: Ridofranz/iStock; Anna_leni/iStock]
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This winter season, more Americans than ever will be buying their holiday gifts, children’s toys, and festive clothing from the comfort of their mobile devices, according to a new report from App Annie.

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Data shows that U.S. consumers are poised to spend more than 900 million hours on mobile shopping apps in the next few months—a 20% increase from last year, which was already a banner year for e-commerce. As the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic continued, online sales records were shattered left and right: In 2020’s fourth quarter—historically the biggest of the year for shopping—e-commerce revenue topped $200 billion, up nearly a third from the previous year. The second quarter of 2021 has already bested this number with nearly $225 billion in sales, and that’s only projected to rise heading into the end of the year.

But that’s probably little surprise at this point: Of course, the pandemic supercharged online shopping habits as consumers were stuck at home. E-commerce’s rocket ascent was also fueled by the tandem growth of “Buy Now, Pay Later” programs, which let online shoppers pay for their purchases with zero-interest monthly installment plans. Two such companies, Klarna and Afterpay, cracked the list of five biggest breakout shopping apps by downloads in 2021. (Others included the trendy and affordable China-based fast-fashion e-retailer Shein—which briefly overtook Amazon as the largest shopping app by downloads worldwide in May—and the Los Angeles budget brand Blush Mark.)

The mobile shopping fad is not confined to the United States: The report also predicts that consumers in the United Kingdom will spend more than 145 million hours on shopping apps this quarter, up from record-smashing numbers brought by lockdowns in Europe last year.

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Here’s hoping this shift brings a more zen holiday shopping season—and a farewell to the long check-out lines and crowded stores of years past!