The holiday shopping season is off to a record breaking start but analysts are reminding consumers to play it safe online.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday delivered strong results for retailers, setting the stage for a record breaking season. Analyst Robert Hetu has been studying the data, below is an edited transcript of our interview.
Robert: I think the retailers are pretty excited. They were expecting a good season, and from everything that we've been able to see from the tracking agencies like Adobe, they have really shown significant positive trends. You know, one of the things that I think we've really observed this year is that that combination of lower unemployment, wages going up, tax cuts, gas prices going down, have really freed up some cash in the consumers hands. And you know, they're interested. They have pent up demand. They're excited to get out there and the retailers are, I think prepared well to take advantage of that opportunity. I think based on everything we've seen, there have been record shopping days. I think Cyber Monday will come in the books as being the biggest shopping day ever in the US and up about 19% from last year is the estimate.
So the expectation is that's gonna, I think continue through the holidays and it really puts to bed that argument around a retail apocalypse. We didn't ever really believe in a retail apocalypse. It was simply the economy struggled and now people are back out there shopping and for retailers that are really focused on the customer experience, it's gonna be a positive result for them.
See:Tech gifts 2018: The top picks (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Karen: Online shopping of course is convenient, but certainly has its drawbacks. Talk a little bit about what people need to keep in mind to keep themselves safe when shopping online.
Robert: Some of the things to consider are, number one to really use a credit card rather than a debit card. Some of the protections that are offered through credit card usage is just superior. And of course, you don't have the direct relationship to your bank account as part of that. So, really it's always an important thing to do. I also recommend highly leveraging, hopefully one credit or one or two credit cards, so that you can really monitor those for transactions you weren't expecting. One of the things, and unfortunately it hits the convenience aspect, but the websites that want to save your credit cards from past transactions. Obviously that is, while convenient, somewhat of a risk for hacking etc. also, things that are helpful like your browser having auto complete functions and sometimes people will store their credit card in their browser information. Really not a good idea. So again, even though it makes it a little more simple, it really is a bit of a concern and certainly will keep you safer.
Being vigilant against phishing and bogus sites. We still see a lot of people who try to take advantage of just making slight alterations to a brands name or a website and the customer will think they're on the real company website, and in fact they're not. So, it's really being vigilant around that. Weird spellings or incorrect phraseology. And of course, perhaps offers that are too good to be true. Because if it's really too good to be true, it might just be someone trying to get your information.
Karen: Robert thank you for your insight. For tech gift ideas this holiday season, be sure to check out TechRepublic.
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