We’ve just had Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are no longer limited to the days themselves but many sales spanning at least a week. Figures suggest that retailers have had very strong sales: Barclaycard has reported record numbers of transactions on Black Friday and online retailers have indicated that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have surpassed their expectations and broken record sales from previous years. In the UK, online sales are expected to have exceeded £1.27 billion on Black Friday alone.
Unsurprisingly, December is the busiest time for retailers and online shopping is particularly popular. Anecdotally, I’ve known some people refuse to buy Christmas presents online because of cybersecurity fears, most memorably the Liverpool taxi driver who took a day off work and drove to London to buy his son a skateboard rather than buy it online. It cost him a day off work, a day’s petrol to and from London and it was more expensive to buy in-store, but he refused to do any shopping online because “the hackers have won”. How many more people feel the same?
Last week, at the same time as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were being pushed by retailers, I surveyed over 1,000 people in the UK to ask if worries about cybersecurity had ever stopped them buying Christmas presents online.
The statistics suggest that one in five people in the UK have been put off buying a Christmas present online due to cybersecurity worries. Looking a bit deeper into the data seems to suggest that the older people are, the more likely it is that worries put them off buying online, but to be conclusive about that we’d need a higher sample size.
I ran the same survey last year and found that slightly fewer respondents had been put off buying Christmas presents online due to cybersecurity worries. The survey last year also had slightly fewer respondents in general (1,002 last year compared to 1,031 this year). It’s not a huge variations in the numbers, but I will run the survey at around the same time every year and it will be interesting to see if patterns become more conclusive, or not.
While I’m talking about future research, some thoughts:
- It would be really interesting to run deeper research to explore the extent to which people choose their online retailer according to perceptions of cybersecurity (whether they trust the retailer or not). The hypothesis being that investing in cybersecurity, and marketing based on that investment, could offer a clear return-on-investment for online retailers. I plan to explore this question in the near-future.
- I do a fair amount of these surveys, focusing on cybersecurity attitudes and behaviours (see my research on two-factor authentication and biometrics, for example). While surveying 1,000 people gives a good insight, it would be great to survey higher numbers. If you or a company you know would be interested in sponsoring such a survey, I’d be happy to chat about it so please get in touch.