Steinhafel took over as the bull’s-eye’s head guy from the long-serving, highly successful Bob Ulrich in May. It’s been a baptism of fire for the company veteran. Across the country, October’s retail numbers were so dreadful that the media called it a “collapse.” Target’s own October sales for stores open more than a year were down 4.8 percent; in November, those same sales fell 10.4 percent.
Target’s chief nemesis, Wal-Mart, has been doing pretty well so far by staying bare bones and picking up a lot of cost-conscious grocery consumers looking for any home-budget trims they can find. Target is more like a “higher-end” discounter. The coming year will put Target’s famous creativity to a different test—financial rather than marketing.