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Kantar: Target Breach Alienates Critical Shoppers

According to market research firm Kantar Retail, Target’s database breach in December not only affected the retailer’s fourth quarter comparable store sales but also contributed to declining shopper penetration post-holiday. Data from the Kantar Retail ShopperScape study indicates that only 33% of households in the United States shopped Target or SuperTarget during January 2014, the lowest penetration number for the company in the past three years and a 22% decrease in penetration for January versus the year-prior month.

The overall trend in Target four-week shopper penetration has been on a downward trajectory for the past several years, Kantar stated. Then there was the data breach.

“In the wake of that news, Target failed to reach a December bump in penetration of the same magnitude as it has enjoyed in recent years,” Rachel McGuire, Kantar Retail senior analyst and co-author, said in announcing the report.  “Our shopper data reflects the extent to which this issue continues to influence shopper behavior.”

The shift away from shopping at Target in January varied among key segments but was most significant among its core guests, Gen X shoppers 32 to 49 years old, who are more likely than any other cohort to shop Target. The retailer also experienced declines with lower-income shoppers, who tend to shop Target at a lower rate in general but whose penetration at Target declined by a full 30% from January 2013 to January 2014.

“Target is at a critical inflection point, as it strategizes how to win back the confidence of shoppers,” Amy Koo, Kantar Retail senior analyst, noted. “While the breach caused an immediate blow to sales and will affect traffic for some time to come, it also exposed the larger longstanding issue of Target’s fragile relationship with its less-engaged guests.”