Although it often feels like you're stealing, being able to walk into an store, pay for a product with your phone and leave without any employee interaction can be liberating. It's an experience that an increasing number of consumers are starting to enjoy too, as evidenced by a new report from Deloitte that suggests shoppers would rather pull out their smartphone or tablet inside a store than speak to an associate. More than half of the people surveyed admitted they prefer using a mobile device to compare prices, gather more information or check availability, while just under half of respondents said they'd rather use complete a mobile payment than head to a cash register. Even unmanned kiosks (think touch displays or tables full of tablets) outranked small talk with a retail employee.

Deloitte isn't suggesting retailers should immediately go ahead and give sales associates the boot (at least not right now), but instead reinforces the need for companies to support consumers' digital shopping needs. People are now more aware and comfortable around technology, which has given rise to automated self-checkouts inside supermarkets and the need to prove to an Apple Store associate that you've paid for your item with your iPhone before you leave (even though you don't need to).

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Can't I help you? Shoppers are shunning store assistants in favor of smartphones