News

Walgreen, McDonald’s e-mail databases breached

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco — A report Monday by Associated Press said that Walgreen Co., McDonald’s and Twitter each reported unrelated security breaches, involving customer e-mail addresses and other private information.

Walgreen said hackers who gained access to a list of customer e-mail addresses may have sent spam directing customers to enter personal data into outside websites.

AP also reported that McDonald’s warned customers that private information they supplied when signing up for online promotions or subscriptions was exposed when a subcontractor improperly handled the data.

Walgreen has not identified how many customers were affected but told customers on Friday that no personal information beyond e-mail addresses was exposed. "Your prescription information, account and any other personally identifiable information were not at risk because such data is not contained in the e-mail system, and no access was gained to Walgreen’s consumer data systems," Walgreen told customers.

McDonald’s Corp. said that some customers’ e-mail and other contact information, birthdates and other specifics were exposed but has not said how many people were affected, where, when or for how long. It said its database that was compromised did not include any financial information or Social Security numbers, and that it is working with law enforcement.

Twitter also reported that hackers broke into users’ accounts and sent spam promoting acai berry drinks. Twitter said only a small share of its 175 million users were affected, though it didn’t know how many.

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FINANCE

Convergys holiday survey: Big online spending yet to come

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati — A survey released Monday by Convergys said that many consumers have yet to complete their holiday shopping — and many of those will do that shopping online.

According to Convergys’ 2010 Holiday Shopping Season Research, which polled 500+ consumers on their holiday shopping plans; 18% of consumers have already completed their holiday shopping; but 27% have not yet started; and 50% are only half done.

Consumers are 33% more likely to have done the majority of their shopping in a physical store as opposed to online, according to the survey results. More than half (57%) have completed most of their shopping in a physical store, and 43% have completed most of their shopping online.

Fifty-six percent of the shopping that consumers have left to do is planned to take place online. Twenty-two percent plan to do the majority of their shopping online but visit physical stores first to see what they want before hunting for the best bargains.

Results showed that the more a customer anticipates they will spend, the more likely they are to be doing the majority of their shopping online. More than half (52%) plan to spend about as much as they did last year, but the rest are 80% more likely to be planning to reduce spend as opposed to increasing. About 17% anticipate they will increase spend compared with last year, and 31% anticipate they will decrease spend compared with last year.

On average, consumers expect to spend $588 on holiday gift shopping this year.

The survey also uncovered service factors; among them, 69% of consumers said a positive or negative customer service experience affects their holiday spirit. Consumers anticipating they will spend $1,000 or more this holiday season are the most sensitive to good and bad experiences (78% yes versus 67% for the rest).

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Pantry reports profit drop in Q4, swings to loss for full-year

BY CSA STAFF

Cary, N.C. — C-store chain The Pantry reported Tuesday that net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 dropped to $8.5 million, compared with $12.5 million in the year-ago period.

Merchandise revenue for the fourth quarter increased 12% overall and 5.7% on a same-store basis from last year’s fourth quarter.

For the full year, the company reported a net loss of $165.6 million compared with net income of $54.1 million in fiscal 2009. Merchandise revenue rose 8.4% to $1.8 billion, and same-store merchandise sales increased 5.6% for the year.

The company operates 1,672 stores in 13 states, mostly under the Kangaroo Express banner.

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