Have you ever wondered whether American shoppers are so concerned over how retailers treat their personal information that they could avoid certain types of shopping experiences altogether? That’s exactly what the research from the Associated Press (AP) and GfK found when they surveyed Internet users in July 2015 about whether retailers can be trusted to keep their information safe.

Turns out, the majority of respondents have at least some level of concern over the security of their personal information in the hands of retailers—regardless of whether they’re shopping in-store, online or via a mobile device.

Unsurprisingly, Internet users were most wary of the ability of online retailers to protect their privacy, with 71% of respondents stating they were at least somewhat concerned about what would happen to their personal information after a purchase. A full quarter of the respondents rated themselves as extremely concerned about this.

Although respondents still had privacy concerns when they shopped at in-store locations, these concerns didn’t reach the same level as online shopping channels.

In-store shopping concerns were:

  • Extremely concerned – 21%
  • Very concerned – 17%
  • Somewhat concerned – 28%
  • Just a little concerned – 18%
  • Not at all concerned – 11%
  • Do not make purchases this way – 3%
  • No answer – 3%.

While these numbers are lower than online, the data still shows that 66% of Internet users had some level of concern about what is perhaps the most common way for Americans to shop on a daily basis.

Interestingly, respondents reported having fewer concerns about the security of their information when they shopped with their mobile devices than they did when they shopped at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. While more than half expressed concerns, mobile privacy rated a full 10 points lower as a concern than in-store shopping. Of course, 26% of respondents still don’t make purchases with their mobile devices, so the lack of adoption of this shopping channel could be skewing the data in mobile’s favor.

The findings of the AP and GfK study were in line with other research taking place this year. In August, AYTM Market Research asked specifically about online privacy concerns.

Online privacy concerns:

  • Very concerned – 18%
  • Concerned – 19.7%
  • Somewhat concerned – 26.5%.

The findings of these two studies only reveal that Americans are concerned about online privacy without addressing any specific fears. To dig deeper into the issue, it’s necessary to review the findings of a survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

Respondents revealed online users feared hackers could get:

  • Social security numbers – 45%
  • Personal banking information – 27%
  • Credit card numbers – 13%.

In order to gain the trust of the two-thirds of online users expressing privacy concerns both online and offline, it’s up to all retailers to take steps to better protect the personal information of their shoppers. Preventing the high-profile data breaches that have so frequently been in the news could help brick-and-mortar stores regain the confidence of shoppers who are still wary about the safety of making online or mobile purchases.


eMarketer. Personal Info Security Worries Shoppers Online and Offline. September 29, 2015.