The department-store chain, which also owns Bloomingdale's, warned shoppers that their personal details and, in some cases, credit-card information, could have been accessed by a third party.
The breach took place between April 26 and June 12, according to a letter that Macy's sent to customers who may have been impacted.
The retailer joins a list of several other companies that have been hit by a data breach in the past year.
Macy's is the latest retailer to be hit by a data breach.
The department-store chain, which also owns Bloomingdale's, confirmed that some of its online shoppers could have been victims of a data breach between April 26 and June 12.
The rise and fall of department stores
The rise and fall of department stores
Founded in 1858, Macy's was one of the first American department stores. It started as a small dry goods store in New York City, but later expanded to 11 adjacent buildings to form a department store.
On its first day in October 1858, Macy's made $11.06, equal to around $300 today.
Before Sears opened a fully air-conditioned, retail store in 1925, it sold products through mail-order catalogs for 40 years. By that time, Sears was already a household name, known for its affordable prices.
By 1927, Sears had launched 27 stores, mostly in Chicago.
James Cash Penney launched his first store, called the Golden Rule, in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming. By 1913, he had opened 34 (non-mall) stores, which he consolidated under the JCPenney Company name that year.
In 1874, Macy's opened its first holiday window display in NYC, which featured porcelain dolls from around the world and scenes from Uncle Tom's Cabin. Shoppers traveled in droves to see the display.
A half century later, Macy’s employees started its famed Thanksgiving Day Parade (originally called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade”), which featured live animals from the Central Park Zoo and attracted 10,000 people.
Macy's spearheaded the one-price system that most American stores use today (which eliminated the common practice of bargaining). It was also the first department store to advertise full refunds when it opened.
Additionally, Macy's was the first clothing store to have a liquor license (which it acquired in 1862) and a Santa Claus during the Christmas season.
(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Sears had more than 600 stores when World War II began in 1941. The chain ventured outside the US for the first time when it launched a store in Havana, Cuba in 1942. That store was followed by others in Europe, Central and South America, and Canada.
By 1941, JCPenney Co had expanded to 1,600 stores in 48 states (all except Hawaii and Alaska). Most of the stores were in outdoor shopping centers.
The State Historical Society of Missouri
In the 1950s, the three chains began anchoring indoor shopping malls, many of which moved from American cities to the suburbs.
Sears was the nation’s largest retailer by revenue until the late 1980s, when Walmart surpassed it.
Online shopping became popular in the 2000s, and department stores started experienced a slow decline. In 2008, retail sales decreased by a record 4.1%, and as much as 28% for some department stores.
From 2007 to 2009, at the time of the Great Recession, department store employment also fell by 132,000 jobs.
(Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)
Due to declining sales, Macy's, Sears, and JCPenney have collectively closed hundreds of stores in the past decade.
"We've reduced risk by eliminating a lot of our pension liability, reducing the size of our bank facility, we reduced the risk by closing stores and reducing the size of the company," Sears CEO Edward Lampert told The Chicago Tribune in March 2017.
"We're fighting like hell to change the way people do business with us."
Today, Macy’s still anchors Herald Square as the world’s largest store, and an upcoming renovation will bring its total retail space to 1.1 million square feet. At the same time, the chain plans to close at least 100 stores across the US.
Since a department store often pays a large part of its mall's lease, a closure can cause smaller shops throughout a mall to shutter. Some analysts project that nearly 25% of American malls are in danger of losing their anchor stores.
America's department stores could rise again if they manage to adapt to today's shoppers, many of whom want to shop online.
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In a letter leaked to DataBreaches.net, Macy's wrote to impacted customers that an unauthorized third party had potentially gained access to their personal information and, in some cases, credit card details. The leaked information could include customers' first and last names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and birthdays.
Macy's has not confirmed exactly how many customers were impacted. However, a spokesperson for the company told Business Insider that it was limited to a small group of customers shopping on Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com.
"We have investigated the matter thoroughly, addressed the cause and, as a precaution, have implemented additional security measures. Macy’s, Inc. will provide consumer protection services at no cost to those customers. We have contacted potentially impacted customers with more information about these services," Macy's said in a statement to the press.
The company joins a long list of retailers — including Sears, Kmart, Whole Foods, and Under Armour — that have been impacted by a data breach in the past year. The majority of the retailers that experienced a breach have not confirmed exactly how many customers were impacted.
Breaches can have huge repercussions, often resulting in customers losing trust in the brands. According to a study from KPMG, 19% percent of consumers said they would stop shopping at a breached retailer, and 33% would take a long-term break.
This is bad news for Macy's, which is doubling down on its digital platform in its ongoing effort to compete against online players.