Michaels Stores, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, confirmed Thursday that there was a security breach at certain systems that process payment cards at its U.S. stores and that of its unit, Aaron Brothers.
The company said in January that it was working with federal law enforcement officials to investigate a possible data breach.
Michaels Stores said the breach, which took place May 8 through Jan. 27, may have affected about 2.6 million cards, or about 7 percent of payment cards used at its stores during the period.
The company said about 400,000 cards were potentially impacted at its Aaron Brothers unit by the breach, which occurred between June 26, 2013 and February 27, 2014.
There was no evidence that data such as customers' name or personal identification number were at risk, Michaels Stores said in a statement.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%This is the second known data breach since 2011 at Michaels Stores.
Michaels Stores, whose major investors are Blackstone Group (BX) and Bain Capital, said cyber security firms it hired found that malware not encountered previously had been used in the latest attack.
The company said it was working with law enforcement authorities, banks and payment processors, and that the malware no longer presents a threat.
Michaels Stores, which resubmitted its IPO documents late last month following a restructuring, is the latest U.S. retailer whose systems have been breached.
Last year, the No. 3 U.S. retailer Target (TGT) suffered a massive security breach that resulted in the theft of some 70 million customer records.
Reuters reported in January that smaller breaches on at least three other well-known U.S. retailers took place and were conducted using similar techniques as the one on Target.
U.S. retailers are planning to form an industry group for collecting and sharing intelligence in a bid to prevent future attacks.
Michaels Stores, which owns several private brands such as Recollections, Artist's Loft and Loops & Threads, competes with Hobby Lobby Stores, Jo-Ann Stores and Walmart Stores (WMT).
17 Tricks Stores Use to Make You Spend More Money
Michaels Stores Confirms Payment Card Data Breach
A big, bold "SALE" sign helps get people in the store, where they are likely to buy non-sale items.
Once you enter, there's the shopping cart. This invention was designed in the late 1930s to help customers make larger purchases more easily.
In supermarkets, high margin departments like floral and fresh baked goods are placed near the front door, so you encounter them when your cart is empty and your spirits are high.
Flowers and baked goods also sit near the front of stores because their appealing smell activates your salivary glands, making you more likely to purchase on impulse.
Supermarkets like to hide dairy products and other essentials on the back wall, forcing you to go through the whole store to reach them.
Once customers start walking through a store's maze of aisles, they are conditioned to walk up and down each one without deviating.
Most stores move customers from right to left. This, combined with the fact that America drives on the right, makes people more likely to purchase items on the right-hand side of the aisle.
Anything a store really wants customers to buy is placed at eye level. Particularly favored items are highlighted at the ends of aisles.
There's also kid eye level. This is where stores place toys, games, sugary cereal, candy, and other items a kid will see and beg his parents to buy.
Sample stations and other displays slow you down while exposing you to new products.
Stores also want items to be in easy reach. Research shows that touching items increases the chance of a purchase.
Color affects shoppers, too. People are drawn into stores by warm hues like reds, oranges, and yellows, but once inside cool colors like blues and greens encourage them to spend more.
Hear that music? Studies show that slow music makes people shop leisurely and spend more. Loud music hurries them through the store and doesn't affect sales. Classical music encourages more expensive purchases.
Store size matters, too. In crowded places, people spend less time shopping, make fewer purchases (planned and impulsive), and feel less comfortable .
Stores not only entice you with sales, they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency in making a purchase.
The most profitable area of the store is the checkout line. Stores bank on customers succumbing to the candy and magazine racks while they wait.
Finally, there is the ubiquitous "valued shopper" card. This card gives you an occasional deal in exchange for your customer loyalty and valuable personal data.