Shared Consumer Worries

According to the National Retail Federation’s STORES November 2016 edition, consumers have worries about the future.  

Topping the list of things that worry consumers are financial security and personal safety. Among business leaders, the top concerns are medical cost inflation and rising employee benefit costs. But one thing is keeping both groups up at night: cyber threats.

Such are the findings of the Travelers Risk Index, an annual survey conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by the Travelers Companies, released in late September.

As mobile devices, wearable technology, connected workspaces and smart homes become more common, 51 percent of consumers fear someone will gain unauthorized access to their personal information via smart devices.

The report found that victims of a data breach or cyber attack – nearly one-quarter of consumers surveyed – say they have not since taken any greater precautions than those who have not experienced a breach. Meanwhile, nearly half of business leaders worry about the emerging risks associated with increased automation and Internet connectivity.

Both consumers and business leaders report worrying about a changing workforce and requiring employees to acquire new skills to be successful. More than one-quarter of consumers surveyed are anxious about having the skills to meet workforce demands. Half of the business leaders surveyed report concerns about their ability to attract and retain talent, and 49 percent view aging employees and the influx of Millennials as key disrupters.

Severe weather is another shared worry: Both groups believe events such as Hurricane Matthew, which recently battered parts of Florida and the Carolinas, are becoming more frequent across the nation, and 39 percent of consumers and 33 percent of business leaders believe damage to their property is more likely to occur as a result.

Consumers seem to feel more prepared: 63 percent say they have a plan for what to do before extreme weather strikes, while about half of business leaders claim to have a business continuity plan in place.

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