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updated 10/5/2012 5:47:37 PM ET 2012-10-05T21:47:37

The struggling economy will cause more Americans to shop online this holiday season, according to a new study published Friday (Oct. 5) by SOASTA, a company that provides Web and Mobile App analytics. Fifty-one percent of Americans plan to hunt for the best deals online, with women ages 18 to 34 the most likely to do so.

Seven in 10 say that the expectation of better deals online is their chief reason to shop electronically, while slightly more than half say saving on gas is a reason to do so. Others say that the bad economy will “bring out the crazy” in people in stores: three in 10 people are staying home to avoid the crowds.

The Black Friday crowds have been in the news with increasing frequency in recent years. In 2008, a Walmart seasonal employee in Valley Stream, N.Y., was trampled to death following the opening of the store. That same day in California, two men shot each other in front of a Toys "R" Us store.

[SEE ALSO: 6 Black Friday Myths Busted!]

At least a dozen other incidents have happened over the past four years, some of which resulted in serious injury or even death: It’s no wonder why some might want to skip the Black Friday rush.

Consumers also see mobile apps as crucial to making holiday shopping easier. About half say these apps make finding the best deals easier, assist them in planning their holiday shopping trips and let them avoid long checkout lines.

Retailers realize getting in and out of the store quickly is something consumers want. Apple’s Apple Store app allows customers to use their phones to check out on their own using billing information stored in their iTunes account. Walmart is also testing out a similar system, although it has not announced when the service would officially launch in its stores nationwide.

[SEE ALSO: What Are Mobile Payments?]

Regardless, the economy does seem to be the chief driver this year for online holiday shopping. Survey respondents also mentioned long working hours in preventing them from shopping in stores, and that shopping online helped them better stay in budget – something important to many families hoping to stretch their holiday dollars.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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