Buoyed by Digital Sales, Target’s Income Grows by 80 Percent
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Buoyed by Digital Sales, Target’s Income Grows by 80 Percent

After a lackluster first quarter, the retailer’s profits soar in the second quarter.

While scores of small businesses and restaurants close their doors due to pandemic-related losses, Target Corp. is again showing an impressive balance sheet.

On Wednesday morning, the Minneapolis-based retailer reported a second-quarter net income of $1.69 billion, more than 80 percent what it was in the same quarter last year.

Revenue also grew substantially in the quarter, hitting almost $23 billion. That marks a 24.7 percent jump from 2019’s second quarter. Comparable sales, measuring revenue generated by individual stores on a year-over-year basis, grew 24.3 percent, which was the biggest jump in Target’s history. Buoyed by a wave of new shoppers, the retailer’s digital sales soared by almost 200 percent in the quarter.

Although e-commerce activity skyrocketed, in-store sales still remained king, accounting for more than 80 percent of Target’s total revenue in the quarter. Of course, comparatively, that’s quite a dip from the same period in 2018, when in-store sales made up nearly 93 percent of the retailer’s sales.

“Obviously they’re benefiting from the Covid environment,” said Brian Yarbrough, a consumer retail analyst with Edward Jones. “But even after other retailers opened back up, [Target] had pretty solid results.”

Notably, the pandemic hasn’t been good for all retailers. Consider J.C. Penney, Pier 1, and Sur La Table, which each filed bankruptcy this year. Retail Dive counts at least 26 retailers that have filed for bankruptcy in 2020.

But Target’s status as a general merchandiser has played to its favor, according to Yarbrough. Initially, Target benefited as consumers made hurried trips for essentials like food and toilet paper. But as coronavirus continued to hang on, there was a notable shift to bigger-ticket items like electronics and home furnishings.

“We remain steadfast in our focus on investing in a safe and convenient shopping experience for our guests, and their trust has resulted in market share gains of $5 billion in the first six months of the year,” said Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell in an earnings call.

Target also claims to have attracted a staggering 10 million new digital guests in the quarter. Now, the key question on many observers’ minds: Will the shift to digital shopping continue after the pandemic is under control? Even before coronavirus hit, Target’s digital sales had been growing, anyway.

“Digital sales have been pretty strong for a while now,” Yarbrough noted, though it’s unlike anything Target’s been seeing during the pandemic. “I would expect online to continue to grow faster than bricks-and-mortar, but not at the current levels we’re seeing.”

What all this means for Target’s future isn’t totally clear yet, either. Keep in mind: The first quarter was less than ideal for Target. Though its digital sales soared, profits dropped off. “It was a weird dynamic because the first quarter was a total disaster,” Yarbrough adds. Consequently, the first and second quarter may end up balancing one another out.