Consumer Behaviors Haven't Changed Much Since Target's Big Data Breach

Retailer agrees to $18.5 million settlement

May 23, 2017

Target agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle an investigation tied to a massive data breach in late 2013.

The breach is arguably the most serious in retail history. After credentials to access Target's network were stolen from a third party vendor, customer data including payment card numbers and PINs were taken. But like other security lapses its main impact was in the short term, leading to the ouster of the CEO and a decline in same store sales. Longer term, the impact is hard to discern.

"Companies across sectors should be taking their data security policies and procedures seriously. Not doing so potentially exposes sensitive client and consumer information to hackers," said Attorney General Jepsen in a statement.

Target's recent challenges and same-store declines are more the result of other factors, such as consumers' increased focus on low prices, a shift toward spending on experiences rather than physical goods, and of course pressure from Amazon.

For the most part, hacking hasn’t made a big impact on online shopping habits. While consumers are worried about their digital privacy, they’re not so worried as to significantly change the way they shop.

January 2017 research from Blumberg Capital found only a small minority of internet users (19%) said they had actually cut back on shopping digitally because of hacking concerns.

As for eliminating digital shopping entirely, just 4% said they had taken that drastic step.