While only a small subset of shoppers have been willing to download retailers’ apps for their phones and tablets so far, those who do are more likely to digitally shop and are typically more loyal, too, writes Krystina Gustafson of CNBC.

The number of iOS shopping app downloads during Black Friday week increased roughly 17%, to 5.82 million, over the same timeframe last year, according to Sensor Tower, an app marketing intelligence firm. That's up significantly from last year's growth rate of just 2 percent for that week.

"The growth is primarily due to the learnings and [work] a lot of the best retail companies have done over the last year or so," said Alex Malafeev, co-founder of Sensor Tower. "They've gotten a lot better at making the buying experience easier inside the mobile app."

Amazon was the biggest winner on Black Friday, with 209,000 consumers downloading its app on Apple iOS systems. That's up from just 61,000 new downloads on Black Friday last year, according to Sensor Tower's data.

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