Not all consumers would abandon a retailer, many would just switch to using cash.
Not all consumers would abandon a retailer, many would just switch to using cash.

Retailer hacks like Target and Home Depot could prove disastrous for stores as a recent consumer survey found that many holiday shoppers would stop shopping at any retailer that suffered a similar attack.

A survey commissioned by Thales e-Security found that 20 percent of shoppers would simply stop shopping at any retailer that reported a breach. Peter Galvin, VP of strategy at Thales e-Security, said that while the company cannot compare this year's figure with 2015, he personally thought the number of people who would stop frequenting a breached retailer.

“In past research, I have seen a greater sensitivity to consumers' reaction when their data is compromised. I think with the ever growing number of breaches consumers are becoming numb to the news of yet another data breach,” he said.

But this benign attitude may not last as more shoppers are victimized and cybercriminals go on their own shopping sprees. And retailers will only have themselves to blame, Galvin said, as the technology is available to safeguard their customer's information.

“As their information is used for nefarious purposes, I believe we will see greater backlash from consumers on those organizations that don't properly protect their personal information,” he said.

While this may prove true, the survey found consumers would be willing to institute a workaround in order to keep shopping at their favorite retailers, even if they had suffered a breach. Fifty-five percent said they would keep shopping, but would avoid using payment cards by sticking to cash. Another 25 percent said they would not alter their payment method at all.

The jump to cash may not seem like a problem for retailers, after all it was the primary form of payment for decades, but Galvin said it can prove to be a barrier. Particularly during the holiday period when families are purchasing high-cost items.

“In today's world, dealing with cash has its own vulnerabilities and it provides greater friction into the consumer buying process, especially for big ticket items. Most modern societies are moving to cashless based payments systems to simplify and improve the consumer experience,” Galvin said.