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by Melissa Westphal

Rockford — For retailers, “power shopping” is poised to take on a whole new meaning.

That’s because the nascent smart device market is about to change the way they lure customers.

For many shoppers, the days of relying on in-store salespeople or buying sale items off the shelves are over. Smartphone and tablet fans subscribe to the do-it-yourself theory: They use their favorite devices and accompanying data plans to compare prices online or use specially designed applications to scan bar codes and receive coupons from their favorite retailers.

Globally, shoppers are expected to use their mobile phones to buy products worth close to $120 billion by 2015, according to the National Retail Federation. Mobile shopping comprised about 25 percent of 2010 holiday spending and research totals for adults and 45 percent for young adults.

A December Gfk Roper survey, in fact, found that half or nearly half of U.S. smartphone shoppers used their phones to find a store location, research specific products they were considering, browse for products or compare prices. About a third looked for discounts, deals, coupons or discount codes.

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