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Source: National Post

Posted on August 21, 2002

      Most Canadians remained wary of online shopping despite the glowing predictions of mass success when electronic commerce began, suggests a new poll.

      Security-related worries were cited as Canadians' main reason for passing up opportunities to buy their goods and services through a computer keyboard, said the Leger Marketing survey.

      Internet users accounted for 60% of Canada's population but 51% of the users polled said they hadn't shopped or bought anything online in the past year, and weren't planning to do so in future.

      "Canadians are definitely concerned with [Internet] security," said Anne-Marie Marois, communication director for Leger Marketing.

      She suggested that's why Canada placed 11th in international rankings for online shopping -- far behind the leading United States.

      "There's not the same level of concern in other countries, such as Germany, Norway, Korea or the U.S.A.," said Ms. Marois, noting a pattern among Canadians of keeping financial information private.

      "Anything regarding people's financial situation is always more touchy. It's something personal that Canadians tend to keep to themselves. It's the kind of privileged information that they just don't give out."

      Of the survey respondents who hadn't made any online purchases in the previous four weeks, 46% said it was because they didn't want to give out credit card details. Fifteen percent said they hadn't shopped online because it was more secure to buy in a store. Another big reason -- cited by 15% -- was that in-store shopping is easier and more fun.

      The survey based on phone interviews with 1,500 Canadians indicated the proportion of Internet users shopping online in Canada was 16%, compared to 18% in the previous year.

      The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. That means online shopping in Canada is likely down from a year ago but, if it's growing at all, it's not up by much.

      Mel Fruitman, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, said he sympathized with people who worry about credit card security.

      "We know e-mails seem to wind up getting spread around the world. Is the same thing going to happen when you plug in your credit card information?" asked Mr. Fruitman.

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