There is no decline at all in online sales due to overall lack of buyer confidence ,when you are talking about established savy ecommerce business owners. The ongoing and increasing problem is the flood of new merchants hitting the web running. Most of these new merchants have zero training in marketing, have not a clue how to design a user friendly website, and it all shows, painfully so to the increasingly savy web shopper.
When the site looks like garbage, contact info is hard to find if available at all, the FAQ is nearly non-exisitent, emails are not answered, the phone goes to voice mail... smart shoppers do not shop.
Now, poll those merchants, and they will tell you that sales are weak. Gee, you think?
You have people from all industries coming to the web trying to supplement rolled back wages, or the income of a family member who got layed off (downsized, offshored, outsourced). They might have been a brick layer or a nurse, perhaps even a computer programmer. What do they know about marketing or ecommerce website design? Very little.
Worst yet, you have every minimally savy web designer who can point and click a mouse setting up ecommerce websites. The sites are frequently a train wreck. Then, you have website design clients that want you to build a site, want it seo and user friendly, then tie your hands and won't let you do the work properly.
There are a combination of problems here, all originating with the business owner, that have lowered visitor confidence. Fraud is on their mind, no doubt. But, it is the red flags set off on the site that send them leaving a site without a sale. The business owner can see the site stats, but doesn't understand them. The site stats tell the story, and present obvious solutions to the problems, if only the business owner really understood them.
I read through these forums heavily. The most common problem I see is failure to do proper research. Nearly every mystery presented here on this board is the result of bad research, bad understanding of site stats, bad understanding of serps, and too little time spent on both. Most come to the forum, looking for answers. Rarely are they found here. What they find are comforting words from others who are suffering. There are thousands of reasons for the afflictions webmasters face and no two situations are identical.
But, the one thing they all have incommon is failure to understand marketing, and understanding how to understand and use the information they have about their traffic,
Those sites who have done a proper job of setting up their business, and who can effectively manage stats, sales continually grow.
It is like the waiter who brings my meal to me, before having the sense to remove my empty salad and soup dishes. I have a crowded table, no place to put the dishes, as he stands there with hot plates. He is getting a lower tip from me, and has no idea why.
If he delivers raw bacon, a burnt steak, or a pile of mushy green beans to me, he likely won't get a tip at all. Quality control is the waiter's job. It is up to him to say to that cook, he will not deliver that garbage to the customer. It is not my job to train a waiter, instead to fairly compensate him for a job well done.
Apply that to ecommerce, and the results are the same. Poor sloppy, unprofessional display of an obviously poorly constructed, over priced product on an ecommerce site equals poor compensation.
It's not rocket science.