Fear of data breaches won't impact US holiday shopping spending, study shows

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We are all too familiar with the expression “consumer is king.” Companies devise complex strategies to convert potential customers into buyers, then use retention schemes to keep the revenue flowing. And if recent studies are any indication, U.S. businesses are doing a heck of a job at holding on to their customer base.

Despite growing concerns about identity theft and fraud, most consumers are already planning an online shopping spree this holiday season, with little concerns about security and privacy, according to an independent survey commissioned by Discover.

Enlisting the help of Propeller Insights, Discover surveyed 2,008 U.S. consumers ages 18 and up between October 27 and October 31. It found that while 62 percent of consumers are indeed concerned about the buzz around identify theft and fraud, 73 percent say it won’t curb their enthusiasm when it comes to this year’s holiday shopping.

This could be (at least in part) because many consumers take proactive steps to keep their finances safe from cybercrooks.

62 percent say they keep an eye out for suspicious activity whenever they monitor financial statements, and 41 percent monitor their credit reports. Another 38 percent use a credit card with built-in security features (such as two-factor authentication), and 18 percent employ identity protection services.

Only a scant 9 percent report not doing anything to guard against identity theft or fraud, Discover says.

Members of the baby-boomer generation (ages 55 and above) are considerably more concerned about protecting their identity. 69 percent monitor their financial statements and 45 percent use a credit card that has built-in security features. In the Millenial camp (ages 18 to 34), the numbers are 62% and 37% respectively.

Other cited holiday shopping plans include:

  • 32 percent will use credit cards most often when making holiday purchases
  • 42 percent cite earning rewards or points as the primary reason why they will use a credit card
  • 70 percent prefer to earn cash back rewards when using their credit cards for holiday purchases
  • 14 percent would rather earn travel rewards (flyer miles or hotel points)
  • 28 percent cite convenience as the reason behind using a credit card
  • 18 prefer using a credit card for the ability to track spending better
  • 29 percent will mostly use debit or prepaid cards
  • 23 percent will mostly use cash
  • 5 percent expect to use gift cards most often
  • 2 percent will mostly write checks

Whether or not Discover’s survey paints an accurate picture of the U.S. consumer base, similar surveys focused on different parts of the world seem to build a considerably different profile for shoppers – at least in the online realm.

In the UK, 52% of shoppers believe online fraud is inevitable at some point, according to payment processor Paysafe. And research by Visa Inc. earlier this year indicated that 72% of Brits abandon their online shopping carts mid-purchase for fear of security.