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Fear and Loathing in the World of Online Shopping

"Creeping credit card security concerns pose a substantial threat" to the growth of e-commerce, says a new industry report.

But there is some good news in the latest @plan Internet Poll. The study found strong evidence that online retail has reached critical mass and will likely give traditional forms of retail a bona-fide challenge this holiday season.

However, the poll shows that widespread questions regarding credit card security online could ultimately hurt the growth of online retail.

Seventy-nine percent of adult American Internet users who say they will not make online purchases this holiday season have concerns about giving a credit card number over the Internet.

About 63 of this group said that giving a credit card number over the Internet is a "major" barrier to online purchasing.

According to the poll, 52 percent of the U.S. adult Internet population expects to be making online purchases during the upcoming holiday season.

Of those who expect to purchase online this upcoming holiday season, 51 percent anticipate that they will spend less at bricks and mortar stores while 27 percent indicate that they will spend less through catalogues.

"Here is the evidence that e-retailing is moving past the toddler stage to a full fledged force that can challenge traditional retailing," said Mark K. Wright, @plan CEO.

But, "whether real or perceived, these fears pose a threat to e-tail," Wright said. "Unless more is done to assuage these concerns, we could be looking at a ceiling to growth."

This poll is the second in a series of 12 monthly @plan Internet Polls intended to measure consumer opinion among adult Internet users regarding public policy issues that will affect the growth and evolution of the Internet.

@plan is a provider of target market research planning systems that examine consumer behavior on the Web.