Shoppers worry about buying in stores and the web. Many trust Amazon and PayPal, a survey shows.

The headlines about thefts of millions of payment card numbers from such retailers as Target Corp. and The Home Depot Inc. have many consumers worried about shopping online and in stores.

A study to be released Tuesday by Bizrate Insight shows 62% of consumers believe bricks-and-mortar stores—the source of most of the major data breaches in recent years—aren’t doing enough to protect their credit card and personal information. 60% say the same about merchant web sites and 65% about mobile retail sites.

Security concerns are not as great among the young: only 52% of Generation Y—consumers ages 18 to 34—say they are concerned about retailer security, compared to over 60% for all respondents. Bizrate, a unit of marketing technology provider Connexity (formerly Shopzilla), surveyed 4,902 consumers Jan. 7-12, asking them to complete the survey after they had just made an online purchase.

The survey also asked respondents to fill in an open text book with the names of retailers they trust with their personal information, and Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, easily topped the list with Walmart Stores Inc. the next most-cited retailer, though far behind. The company most frequently named after Amazon, even though it’s not a retailer, was PayPal, the online payment service owned by eBay Inc. 2,172 respondents answered this question, and because some mentioned several retailers, Bizrate says it’s not possible to provide a percentage breakdown of the responses. However, Bizrate did diagram the responses in a “cloud” format that shows how often various companies were named relative to each other.

The results show the data thefts have impacted many shoppers, says Hayley Silver, vice president of Bizrate Insights.


“No retailers and no retail channels are immune to some fallout from the credit card and personal information thefts that have been reported over the past year,” Silver says. “To reduce shopper concerns over security and reluctance to make new purchases, retailers need to proactively turn the conversation toward their embrace of consumer protections. PayPal seems to have effectively done this, with online buyers rating them the second most trusted for retail payment security.”

Because of the data thefts, 34% of respondents say they hesitate to buy online and 29% say the same about shopping in stores.

Of those worried about online, 69% say they look for web sites that display trust symbols, such as those from Bizrate Customer Certified, TRUSTe and the Better Business Bureau. Women are more likely than men to look for these symbols given to retail sites that meet certain security criteria, but there was little variation by age, Silver says.

Age does impact how likely a shopper is to be concerned about shopping by any method. Here is the breakdown by age group of consumers worried about shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores, retail web sites and mobile web sites and apps, with the percentages in order of generation: Generation Y (ages 18-34), Generation X (35-50), Boomers (51-65) and Seniors (66 and older):

  • Bricks-and-mortar: 45%, 61%, 69%, 77%
  • Web sites: 47%, 59%, 65%, 70%
  • Mobile: 51%, 63%, 71%, 76%

When asked what made them believe retail security was lagging, the top four responses were: “News reports of information being stolen from retailers” (43% or respondents), “my information was stolen” (17%), “I don’t believe that the store will take good care of me if there is a problem (12%) and “I tend not to trust companies, employees or technology” (10%). There was little variation in the answers to this question among generations, Bizrate says.

Home Depot is No. 16 in the Top 500 and Target No. 18.