Holiday shopping numbers were an encouraging sign for the U.S. economy to start the New Year.  But new statistics out show that tablet makers have extra reason to be optimistic this year, with the popularity of the devices taking off.

FOX News Radio's Lisa Lacerra reports:

The number of people using tablets and e-readers, nearly doubling between mid-December and January, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  It finds 29% of Americans owned at least one tablet or e-reader as of the beginning of this month.

Apple's iPad paved the way for the tablet, with cheaper tablets like the Kindle Fire and the Nook from Barnes & Noble making them more accessible.  The study also finding men and women equally likely to own tablets, and they're more popular in higher-income households, with e-readers slightly more common among women.

Lisa Lacerra, FOX News Radio.