TracFone's Straight Talk, AT&T's Cricket offer new discounts as smartphones top Black Friday shopping lists

As the critical holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said that smartphones stand at the top of Americans' list of most-wanted tech products, beating out TVs, tablets and laptops. And wireless players continue to work to stimulate that demand, with AT&T's (NYSE: T) Cricket Wireless and América Móvil's U.S. MVNO, TracFone Wireless, offering new discounts today.

The CTA (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association) said that 56.9 million American adults (45 percent of all shoppers) have bought or plan to buy tech products during the Thanksgiving shopping week, which includes the Monday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. The group also said online and mobile device shopping played a "critical" role in driving shopping traffic: A combined 85 percent of those who shopped did so online or via mobile, compared to 94 percent who shopped in physical stores, according to CTA's survey of 1,003 U.S. adults between November 27 and 28, 2015.

CTA said smartphones were the No. 1 tech product that survey respondents planned to purchase.

Thus, it's no surprise that the nation's wireless carriers pulled out all the stops in their holiday promotions to draw in new customers. Among the more notable promotions this weekend were Sprint's (NYSE: S) offer to cut rivals' service bills in half, Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) offer of 1 GB of free data for Thanksgiving, and T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) offer to pay $200 to switching Sprint customers.

Today, AT&T's Cricket prepaid brand issued a new promotion where it will cut in half the cost of a handful of Samsung smartphones: The company said that, through Dec. 3, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will cost $99.99, the Galaxy S5 will cost $199.99, and the Galaxy S6 will cost $249.99.

Separately, as noted by Droid Life, TracFone is reducing the cost of its Straight Talk-branded MVNO service by up to $55 per year. Specifically, the cost of three months of unlimited Straight Talk service is now $10 less, to $120. The cost of six months of unlimited Straight Talk is $25 off ($230), and the cost of a year of unlimited service is $55 off ($440).

Not surprisingly, the amount of overall holiday shopping conducted over mobile continues to grow. According to a report from IBM, online retail sales rose by 26 percent overall when compared with last year. And this year mobile shopping accounted for nearly 60 percent of all online traffic and 40 percent of all online sales -- up 15.2 percent from last year. "Mobile sales were also strong, with 36.2 percent of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of nearly 30 percent over last year," the company said in its Black Friday report.

For more:
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this VentureBeat article
- see this Verge article
- see this IBM report
- see this CTA release
- see this Droid Life article

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