Fears over identity theft, spam and consumer privacy will have a significant negative impact on online shopping during the 2003 holiday season, according to research.
While analysts expect a record year for e-tailers, money is still being left on the High Street, according to privacy organisation TRUSTe, which commissioned the poll.
The poll of 1,212 consumers found that 49 per cent intend to limit their holiday online shopping to some extent because of the possible misuse of personal information.
Some 5.6 per cent stated that they will not shop online at all this year because of these concerns.
The principal consumer concerns are receiving unwanted spam after purchasing a product, the fear of identity theft and the potential for credit card information to be stolen when making an online purchase.
The poll also queried consumers on their comfort level when purchasing from well-known online brands versus lesser-known e-tailers.
Predictably, the results show that a significant number of consumers - approximately one third of the survey respondents - were less willing to purchase items from a smaller online retailer than a large well-known brand.
The respondents indicated as the primary reason a concern that smaller e-tailers are more inclined to misuse personal information.
Fran Maier, executive director of TRUSTe, said in a statement: "The internet was supposed to be the great equaliser, allowing small to compete with big.
"Yet this vision will never be realised as long as consumers are uncomfortable purchasing from e-tailers that don't put an emphasis on privacy."
The survey participants were also asked to what degree the presence or absence of a posted privacy statement or third-party privacy seal influenced their willingness to provide personal information (credit card, name/address, email) to an online shopping site.
Half of the consumers stated that they would not purchase from an online site nor provide personal information unless the site posted a privacy statement or privacy seal.
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