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Report: More data breaches expected to surface

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Following news that luxury giant Neiman Marcus experienced network breaches over the holiday shopping season, similar to those of Target Corp., unidentified sources told Reuters that at least three other attacks on well-known merchants could be revealed in the coming weeks.

According to the report, the sources said the additional breaches involved retailers with outlets in malls, but no more details have been given. Law enforcement has said that they suspect the perpetrators hail from Eastern Europe, and the latest reports suggest all the breaches could have been instigated by the same hackers.

Neiman Marcus said its cyber attack was discovered on Jan. 1 by an outside forensics firm. The retailer first reported the breach on Jan. 10, just three weeks after Target revealed that some 40 million payment card numbers had been stolen in its cyber attack. On Friday, Target said the data breach was worse than initially thought.

On Monday, Reuters reported that Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives are calling for the panel to investigate the Target breach.

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Midwestern U.S. has highest rate of holiday returns

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Irvine, Calif. — Statistics released by The Retail Equation, gathered during the seven days after Christmas, revealed that the Midwest states had the highest rate of returns, when comparing total dollars purchased to total dollars returned and exchanged.

Ohio led the pack with a rate of returns of 25.6%; Illinois had the second highest with 24.8%. The state with the least rate of returns was Nevada with 16%. The Retail Equation’s data also indicated that the highest rate of returns nationwide occurred at 12:42 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Dec. 26. And, while Dec 26 had the highest total returns, almost 3x the typical number of returns during the holiday season, there were 4 other days that more than doubled the normal return volumes.

“Return rates in the Midwest were higher than the rest of the country this past holiday season, which we attribute to the continued sluggish economy in the region,” said David Speights, chief statistician at The Retail Equation. “However, if managed properly, holiday returns offer a source of good consumer traffic for retailers’ end-of-year sales objectives.”

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Report: CEO of A&P departs

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Sam Martin, president and CEO of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., has left the company, Produce News reported.

"We all thank Sam for his time at A&P and wish him well in his future endeavors," the company said in a statement. “At the appropriate time in the company’s 2014 planning process, a new chief executive officer will be identified.”

Gregory Mays, executive chairman of the supermarket company, is serving as interim CEO until a successor is named.

Prior to taking the position as president and CEO at A&P in 2010, Martin was the chief COO Office Max. He also held executive positions with Wild Oats and ShopKo.

A&P operates more than 300 stores in six states under the A&P, Food Basics, The Food Emporium, Pathmark, Superfresh and Waldbaum’s banners.

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