Consumers flock online for Xmas bargains but flout security fears

18 Dec 2009

Some 74pc of Irish consumers, 83pc of UK consumers and 62pc of Swedish consumers emerged as the most likely to shop online this year for Christmas, shunning the high street and braving cyber criminals.

Belgium, Norway and Switzerland’s Christmas shoppers were least likely to shop online with 80pc, 79pc and 74pc of respondents respectively sticking to the high street, according to a survey compiled by Microsoft.

Survey says

A considerable majority – 73pc – of Europeans are concerned about security when making online purchases this winter, and 81pc have concerns over the privacy of their transactions.

Consumers in Italy (85pc) are the most concerned about security issues, being one of the most likely countries to shop online. Some 84pc of the Irish are concerned about online transactions, followed by 78pc of the Greeks.

The Netherlands is the most concerned over privacy issues (95pc), followed closely by Portugal (93pc) and Norway (92pc). Denmark was the country with consumers least worried about online privacy, as only two-thirds cited it as a concern.

Despite online threats, with two-fifths of consumers (58pc) across Europe avoiding online shopping, it seems they are missing out on some of the advantages it can bring. The 42pc of shoppers using the internet to buy gifts are reaping the benefits of price comparisons and the lack of jostling Christmas crowds!

Privacy concerns

The reason behind the reluctance to shop online may be because 81pc of consumers across Europe are fearful of their privacy being violated and 73pc are anxious about the level of security when making web transactions.

Internet browsers are key in providing consumers with online security and privacy. These results come from a recent survey conducted by Microsoft IE8 across 11 countries in Europe, exploring the attitudes of more than 4,000 people and highlighting the biggest concerns associated with online shopping.

Despite the concern over security across Europe, the survey also revealed that more than a third of consumers (35pc) have not updated their browsers in the past six months, suggesting many of them are at risk of online threats. Like anti-virus updates, consumers need to update their browsers regularly if they want to ensure they are protected from malware and phishing attacks.

“With more and more Irish shoppers buying online not only at Christmas, but throughout the year, but by looking for those online bargains and the growing number of online retailers means the risk of identity theft is greatly enhanced,” said Ronald Dockery, client manager, Microsoft Ireland, “but it needn’t be if consumers are aware of the risks and know what to look out for.

“We are offering tips and tricks to safeguard against malware as well as some free downloadable tools that will help consumers stay safe this holiday season.

“What consumers really want is peace of mind and reliability when shopping. Internet Explorer 8 delivers this with its improved protection against security and privacy threats, enabling consumers of all ages to browse and buy gifts with confidence.

“By combining Internet Explorer 8 with Microsoft Security Essentials, our free anti-virus solution for your PC and Windows live parental controls which keeps your kids safe online, you get a terrific browsing experience that’s safe and secure for all the family.”

About the customers

Hampers & Co, a leading supplier of more than 30,000 Irish Christmas hampers each year, do everything they can to help ensure their customers’ personal details are safe when ordering with them. With much of their business done online they know the importance of online security.

“We rely upon our customers being able to browse in private and at their leisure through our online order system, hence no passwords or account setups required,” said Emer Purcell, managing director of Hampers & Co.

“Our hampers have become known globally for their quality along with the care and service in which we deliver our hampers to their customers, friends and family on behalf of them. Part of that service is to do everything we can to ensure that their personal details are uncompromised.”

“We would encourage all of our customers to make sure they do everything they can to protect and ensure that their personal information is protected by using a secure browser, such as Internet Explorer 8, and ensuring that they are fully protected with most up-to-date anti-phishing and anti-virus software, not just at Christmas but year round,” added Alan Metcalfe, general manager of Hampers & Co.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years