NEW YORK: Social media, online search and mobile are playing an increasingly important role in the US retail arena, a study has revealed.

Consultancy Deloitte surveyed 1,050 American consumers to gain an insight into spending habits and evolving behaviour.

It reported that 74% of respondents anticipated higher prices would exert a negative impact their expenditure going forward.

Some 71% of the sample referenced surging energy costs, measured against the total of 54% registered in equivalent analysis published last year.

Other factors shaping such adverse perceptions incorporated an uptick in medical expenses, cited by 47% of those polled, and geopolitical uncertainty, on 44%.

In all, 43% of interviewees think the domestic economy remains in a recession, although well-off participants proved relatively upbeat.

As such, 45% of households earning at least $100,000 annually agreed confidence in the financial situation has hardened during the last six months, compared with 24% of less affluent individuals.

Elsewhere, 27% of the panel thought retailers now offer greater value for money, declining from 45% in 2010.

Similarly, 54% took the view that they currently receive inferior assistance in stores than previously, and 32% believed merchandise ran out more quickly than was formerly the case.

Another 60% of shoppers utilise online search more regularly to identify the best deals and products, including 56% of customers aged 45 years old and above.

Exactly 40% of contributors actively engage with retailers via social networks, particularly to uncover promotions, conduct research and review recommendations.

Over-45 year olds were keen on this strategy, as 29% connect to their favoured vendors in the same way, and 17% expect these firms to provide apps, mobile alerts or social media pages.

This latter figure stood at 31% for the younger audience, according to Deloitte.

Among the 32% of people owning a web-enabled smartphone, 43% had used it while in bricks and mortar outlets "to assist in their shopping", and 37% would like to have done so, but faced connectivity issues.

"The recession has redefined the consumer's relationship with retailers, and social and mobile applications have accelerated this change," Alison Paul, Deloitte's vice chairman and US retail sector leader, said.

"Consumers are challenging retailers to be creative and deliver a multi-channel experience that stands out."

Data sourced from Internet Retailer; additional content by Warc staff