TECHNOLOGY

Tex-Mex restaurant chain targeted in cyber-attack

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Chili’s is the newest victim of a data breach.

Tex-Mex restaurant chain Chili’s Grill & Bar, which is owned by Brinker International, was hit by cyber-thieves on Saturday, May 12. Hackers gained access to customer payment card information for customers who visited corporate-owned restaurants between March and April. Chili’s announced the data breach online and on social media the day after it was discovered.

According to Brinker International, malware was used to gather payment card information, including credit or debit card numbers and cardholder names, from Chili’s payment-related systems at certain restaurants. The company did not reveal how many customers were affected.

Upon learning about the incident, the company immediately activated a response plan, which included working with third-party forensic experts who conducted a thorough investigation. Law enforcement has been notified of this incident, and the company continues to fully cooperate, and assess the scope of the incident.

“We deeply value our relationships with our guests, and our priority remains doing what is right for them. We are committed to sharing additional information on this ongoing investigation,” Brinker International reported.

Chili’s operates more than 1,600 locations in 31 countries and two territories.

The Tex-Mex chain is the latest company to suffer a data breach. In April, Panera Bread, Best Buy, Sears Holdings, and stores across Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th, and Lord & Taylor brands all announced they were targeted in cyber-attacks.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: ‘Bridge Millennials’ drive spending across apparel and accessories

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Maturing and more established Millennials are becoming increasingly appealing to retailers, especially those in apparel.

Americans across generations, including Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers, spend $400 billion on apparel and accessories annually, accounting for 8% of all retail spending in the United States. However, bridge Millennials, a mobile-centric group comprised of 30- to 40-year-olds, are spending more on apparel and accessories than any other generation, according to the “Connected Consumer Report,” from Pymnts.

Millennials make an average of 19.3 apparel and accessories purchases annually. The digitally savvy bridge Millennial segment leads these purchases based on their shopping journeys that happen both online and offline. In fact, 40% either went online to find and buy clothes, or perused in the store and then purchased online.

Ultimately, preferences across all groups come down to consumer-retailer interactions both in stores and online. Consumers value easy, accessible shopping across various channels, and 71% said they would purchase from a merchant that offered a more seamless and meaningful experience. Bridge Millennials are no different, as 25% of these online shoppers prefer Amazon. Meanwhile, 30% have switched to or tried a new merchant in the past 30 days.

Realizing that digital shopping, both online and in stores, has come to change the way consumers shop, “brick-and-mortar stores will need to focus on becoming more digitally efficient to attract and retain customers — especially the promising bridge Millennials generation,” the study said. “Retailers are now working to perfect that consumer engagement in an increasingly digital world, endeavoring to make the situation meaningful and give all generations an optimum shopping experience.”

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Happy Returns hits a milestone

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A concept dedicated to in-person returns for online retailers has hit a significant stage in its expansion plan.

Happy Returns opened its 100th Return Bar location. Overall, Happy Returns’ network is set to grow to more than 220 locations by the end of 2018. The company had 50 return locations as of January.

The newest Return Bar is located in Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles. This is the third Westfield mall in Los Angeles, and the eighth Westfield property nationwide, to feature a returns center.

The company also partners with other top mall properties, as well as regional and national chain stores and independent boutiques, a move that contributes to increased foot traffic. There partnerships have enabled Happy Returns to set up returns centers in 18 different metro areas in the United States, including 14 of the largest 15 cities by population, according to the company.

“Our rapid growth and expanding set of location partners demonstrates the utility of our service for all stakeholders in the return transaction,” said David Sobie, co-founder and CEO of Happy Returns.

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