More online shopping is done over the holiday season than at any other time of the year.

Holiday shoppers are jittery this season over possible retail data breaches, according to the latest consumer survey from identity security solution provider Generali Global Assistance. The firm found that 71 percent of respondents said they are “concerned that their financial and personal information could be compromised due to data breaches while shopping during this holiday season.”

Those polled also expressed concern that retailers were not doing enough to protect their personal data.

The sentiment report was released as the number of data breaches has increased over the past five years. Last year set a record and security consultants have said the growth of online shopping increases the risk of breaches.

Generali Global Assistance said in its report that 91 percent of U.S. consumers will shop this season, with 65 percent heading to a physical store while 59 percent will shop online using a desktop or laptop. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they were planning to shop this season on a mobile device. “Whether they are at brick-and-mortar or online stores, 64 percent of holiday shoppers plan to shop at two to five stores, with another 23 percent saying they will shop at six to 10 stores,” authors of the report added.

The survey showed that 65 percent of shoppers will be using cash this holiday season while 52 percent use debit cards, and 45 percent use credit cards. In last year’s report, the most popular form of payment was credit.

Regarding personal data, 33 percent of respondents said businesses “are not doing all they can to protect their personal information,” while 33 percent of those polled said they “are unsure if businesses are doing enough,” which the firm said was a decrease of 7 and 5 percentage points, respectively, from last year’s survey. “Moreover, if a retailer experienced a data breach in the past, 83 percent of shoppers feel concerned making an online or in-store purchase at that retailer,” researchers stated.

The survey also revealed that 51 percent of consumers viewed online merchants as riskier in regard to data breaches, which compares to 20 percent for brick-and-mortar companies.

“With 2017 recording an all-time high of [more than] 1,500 data breaches, consumers are more aware of the threats associated with holiday shopping and the need for businesses to better protect their data,” said Paige Schaffer, president and chief operating officer of Generali Global Assistance’s identity and digital protection services global unit. “Though consumers are less confident in a business’ ability to protect their data, offering identity protection establishes trust and sends a clear message that they take the burden and privilege of protecting data seriously.”

The firm noted that 55 percent of respondents said they would feel more confident “if a business is actively working to protect their data and reduce risk if they offered identity protection services.” When asked if a retailer with identity protection instills confidence in that company, 68 percent of respondents said yes — a 12 percent increase over last year’s survey.

“For many, the holiday season is stressful enough without having to worry that one’s identity will be stolen,” Schaffer said. “Safeguarding your customers’ identities and financial well-being through identity protection services is one way to demonstrate that, as a business, you understand your customer’s needs.”

For more WWD business news, see:

WWD Viewpoint: It’s the Holidays…Again

A ‘Hero’ for the Times? Platform Improves In-Store Experience

HRC Retail Advisory Survey Reveals Challenges of Online Execution

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