Two out of three European consumers have terminated a purchase online due to fears of lack of security on the particular site, a report states.

According to security company Verisign 's annual report about how web security affects online shopping, the feeling of security is paramount when it comes to making a consumer purchase using services online.

Sixty per cent of European web shoppers have chosen not to complete a purchase, despite having gone through most of the buying process on a particular website.

In the UK the figure was somewhat lower, with 54 per cent saying they had abandoned an online purchase at the last minute.

"Of the shoppers who said they had decided not to go through with a particular online purchase, 72 per cent would have continued had there been a trusted seal or mark displayed clearly on the website," said Simon Church, VeriSign vice president in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The security company added that businesses need to make security on their websites visible and easy to understand. Giving consumers access to contact details and a working telephone number also adds consumer confidence.

Phishing major concern

According to Church, phishing is a major reason behind consumers' security concerns.

"Phishing has increased by 4,000 per cent since 2003, and this year there has been 28,000 phishing attempts per month," he said. However, he added that European consumers are less concerned about phishing compared with American shoppers.

There is no question, according to Church, that doubts surrounding the security of online retailers is impeding business.

" Forrester Research estimates that the European online shopping market will be worth 263bn euros (£178bn) in 2011. I think that figure could be a lot higher if more businesses were aware of consumers' hesitation," he said.

The VeriSign research polled a total of 1,426 people in the US, Australia, UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and France. Anna Lagerkvist