Will Thanksgiving be Mobile Thursday for retailers?

With all the buildup to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, it’s easy to overlook the shopping that will take place this Thursday. No, I don’t mean those brick and mortars that are opening their doors to eager bargain hunters while the turkey dinner is still on the table. I’m talking about people on their iPads, Droids and iPhones doing a little shopping from the couch Thanksgiving evening. I’m talking about Mobile Thursday.

A study by Harris Interactive for Digitas found that 28% of adult smartphone and tablet owners plan to shop on their mobile on Thanksgiving. That’s nearly double the 15% reported last year. Why? Two reasons. Aunt Edna’s house gets a little boring around 5:23pm (which not coincidentally is the time of day eBay plans to begin promoting mobile deals) and mobile users are increasingly using their devices to shop.

For many people, Thanksgiving means 8+ hours at a relative’s house, glutinous consumption of turkey and booze, and watching football while nodding off on the sofa. For the nation’s mobile device users (addicts?), they’ll get antsy eventually and kill a little time browsing on their phone. After Facebook pictures of turkey and reports of “food comas”, they may get the itch to shop. After all, if you’re bored at Aunt Edna’s and have just heard the many things people hope to get for Christmas, what better time to shop? And if you’re a few whiskeys into the day, your shopping decisions might be very generous!

This holiday season, mobile users are planning to use their phones for more than just lists, store locators and price comparisons. In fact according to eMarketer, 42.6% of mobile users plan to make purchaseswith their device. And they’re considering purchases in a variety of categories, with a full 60% considering electronics (up from 51% last year), 56% possibly buying toys (up from 52% in 2011), and 45% potentially buying clothing (up from 40% last season). Those are pretty big jumps in adoption and show that mobile shopping has really gained ground in 2012.

Successful retailers have built the social and email channels to reach shoppers before the tryptophan kicks in, it could pay off in a big way. But to really get the most out of Mobile Thursday, the shopping experience needs to be personalized, compelling enough for repeat visits, and of course, easy for customers to find what they need.