Shoppers Shop Despite Safety Concerns

Jul 19, 2002

According to a report by, few Americans have changed their shopping habits in the last year, despite speculation that consumers would shun high-profile public retail spaces like malls out of safety concerns.

A recent Yellow Pages Research Institute survey found that 75 percent of consumers
have not avoided public shopping spaces in the last year. Half of the consumers
interviewed did say they were buying online more, and 40 percent have shopped
closer to home.

When asked how their shopping habits have changed in the last year, 47 percent
said they used the Internet more often. Sixteen percent have used mail order
catalogs more often, and eight percent, the telephone.

Of those who use the Internet more often, only one percent claimed safety as their main reason. Six percent and five percent, respectively, cited safety concerns of those who use the telephone or catalogs more often.

Moderator Comment: Has the threat of terrorism affected shopping behavior more than the Yellow Pages’s research indicates?

Our view is that the answer to the question lies largely
with where a consumer lives. Shoppers in Lawrence, Kan., are probably not terribly
concerned with the prospect of a terrorist attack. That is not so here in the
New York metro area.

Many of us lost family and friends on September 11th.
If not, we know someone who has. Responding to a survey, few would admit that
they have let the threat of terrorism affect them in any way. Perhaps, they
honestly believe it themselves. It is not so.

We submit for your consideration the following two local
examples based on personal knowledge.

  • In December 2001, parents with small children pass
    on the annual trip to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap. A growing number simply
    buy Hanukkah and Christmas gifts online.

  • In May 2002, a number of parents in New Jersey keep
    their second graders home rather than allow them to join a class field trip
    to Coney Island.

Anderson – Moderator

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