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Widespread tech outage affects registers at Target stores

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A Target store in Omaha, Neb., is seen in May 2017.
Nati Harnik | AP 2017

Updated: 4:50 p.m. | Posted: 1:20 p.m.

A technological problem knocked registers at Target stores offline for a time Saturday, leaving customers in stores unable to make purchases.

The Minnesota-based retail chain reported late Saturday afternoon that its registers were "fully back online and guests are able to purchase their merchandise again in all stores. 

"The temporary outage earlier today was the result of an internal technology issue that lasted for approximately two hours. Our technology team worked quickly to identify and fix the issue, and we apologize for the inconvenience and frustration this caused for our guests."

Target officials said Saturday's tech problems were not a data breach or data security issue, and no customer information was compromised.

"We appreciate all of our store team members who worked quickly to assist guests and thank everyone involved for their patience," the company said in a prepared statement.

Social media platforms started lighting up around midday with reports of the outage, with many posts sporting a "targetdown" hashtag.

Target posted a statement on its Twitter page shortly after 2 p.m.: "We're aware that guests are currently unable to make purchases at Target stores. Our teams are troubleshooting now and we apologize for the inconvenience. We will provide an update as soon as possible."

Customers on Twitter and other platforms said the registers had stopped functioning during the noon hour, leaving shoppers unable to pay for their items.

Customers at individual stores reported that employees handed out snacks and beverages to people waiting in line at the offline registers.

NPR reported that employees at some stores were able to find workarounds to check out items, though the process was a lengthy one.

Headquarters staff didn't respond immediately to inquiries from Minnesota Public Radio for further information about the outage.

Target has suffered from technology problems in the past. The Minnesota-based retail chain suffered a serious technology breach during the Christmas holiday rush in 2013, when hackers got into the company network and gained access to a suspected 110 million credit and debit card accounts that had been used at the stores. 

In the 2013 case, computer experts said hackers had apparently taken advantage of a refrigeration contractor's vendor access to the company's network.