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Shopping via mobile devices increased 81 percent in 2012

U.S. consumers used smartphones and tablets to make $25 billion in transactions in 2012, according to eMarketer data.

The growing popularity of tablets is helping drive an increase in mobile device shopping.
Jared Kohler/CNET

The phrase "shop by phone" took on new meaning in 2012, with U.S. consumer spending via mobile devices nearly doubling over 2011 levels.

Shoppers used their smartphones and tablets to make $25 billion in purchases last year, an increase of 81 percent over the previous year, according to data released today by market research firm eMarketer.

The researcher estimates that mobile devices accounted for 11 percent of e-commerce sales last year and expects that number to increase to 15 percent in 2013.

eMarketer expects consumers to make nearly $87 billion in mobile purchases by 2016, more than 27 percent of all e-commerce transactions.

The firm's forecast attributes the increase to the growing number of smartphone owners comfortable using their handsets to make purchases and the rise in shopping via tablet, which eMarketer expects consumers to use for the bulk of mobile commerce sales during the next four years.

Consumers will spend $24 billion shopping on tablets, and that amount will nearly double in 2014, eMarketer predicted. However, sales via smartphone are expected to grow more slowly, reaching $13 billion this year and $24 billion by 2016.

Use of mobile devices by holiday shoppers nearly doubled this year, accounting for 16.3 percent of online sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, compared to 9.8 percent in 2011, according to data from IBM.

Overall, consumers spent $42.3 billion online during the November-December holiday shopping season, a 14 percent increase over 2011, according to data compiled by ComScore.