Target's stock drops after weekend register meltdown

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Target shares were down 1.5% Monday as investors tried to gauge how much the retailer could’ve lost in sales when its cash registers stopped working over the weekend.

“It’s awful. People are loading up for the summer, for camp … it was a Saturday,” Stacey Widlitz, president of consulting group SW Retail Advisors, said about the mishap. “But these things happen. Then guess what? Things go back to normal.”

On Saturday afternoon, for roughly two hours, Target cash registers across the country stopped working, preventing customers from making purchases in stores. Outraged customers took to Twitter and Instagram, sharing photos of them abandoning full shopping carts in aisles. The company later said the ruckus was the result of “an internal technology issue” and wasn’t security-related.

Then, on Sunday, Target’s payment processor NCR had technical issues at one of its data centers. As a result, Target again couldn’t process credit-card payments at some stores for about 90 minutes. This wasn’t related to the technical issues on Saturday, Target said. Both outages have since been resolved.

Target hasn’t commented on the estimated financial impact of the outages. Online sales were still able to be processed this past weekend.

Ultimately, Widlitz said, “shoppers have a very short memory with things like that.”

The situation would’ve been far worse in terms of negative impact if it had happened to a struggling retailer, “where you could easily walk across the mall to get the same stuff somewhere else,” she said. Target’s one-stop shopping destination is hard to match, she said. “Shoppers will creep back into [Target] stores.”

Target’s nationwide cash register meltdown created more than $16 million in buzz on the internet from news reports and other social media mentions, according to one marketing agency.

Apex Marketing found $8.9 million of Target’s brand exposure over the weekend was negative, $6.1 million was neutral and $1.1 million was positive, totaling roughly $16.2 million overall. For comparison, on the prior weekend, Target received only about $435,000 in media exposure, Apex said.

Target shares, which have a market value of $44.5 billion, have rallied more than 30% this year.

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