IT Business Edge contributor Sue Marquette Poremba says concerns about the H1N1 virus might keep some brick-and-mortar store shoppers away this Black Friday. While disconcerting to those retailers, that news is encouraging for online retailers, as Forrester Research forecasts an 8 percent increase in online retail sales over last year. Cyber Monday sales should be booming as a result.
Retailers are especially concerned given that women and individuals age 55 and over are more likely than other consumers to avoid retail stores during busy days like Black Friday, according to the Morpace Omnibus Study. Overall, 15 percent of all respondents said that they will avoid busy holiday shopping days and large crowds because of the flu virus. Additionally, 19 percent of all women and 26 percent of respondents age 55 and over plan to avoid the busiest shopping days such as Black Friday.
"The main trend we see is that the economy and H1N1 could both adversely impact retail sales this holiday season," said Morpace vice president of retail services Tom McGoldrick.
Online retailers preparing for more traffic should be aware of two potential security risks, Poremba says.
The best way to protect your business from within and for your customers, she says, is to remain vigilant and to keep security patches up to date.
Here are some Knowledge Network tools and resources to help protect your business.