Target Nov. Sales Down Despite Holiday Push

Target Nov. Sales Down Despite Holiday Push

The 1 percent same-store sales decline, which failed to meet the expectations of both the company and Wall Street analysts, was driven by weak performance during the first two weeks of the month.

Target Corporation’s same-store sales dropped 1 percent in November, a somewhat surprising outcome given its Thanksgiving weekend sales push.
 
Same-store sales, or sales at stores open for at least a year, are a key barometer of retail performance. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a 2.1 percent jump for the four-week period that ended Monday.

The decline comes during a key period for retailers, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue in November and December.
 
Target’s net retail sales, which includes sales at stores open for less than a year, remained almost flat in November, decreasing 0.1 percent to $6.18 billion.
 
Target Chairman, President, and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement that November sales were “below our expectations,” and he said they reflected “weaker-than-planned sales performance in the first two weeks, combined with stronger sales growth across all channels later in the month.”
 
The retailer’s performance suggests that consumers may have spent less during the early part of the month as they waited for Black Friday deals and anticipated larger purchases over Thanksgiving weekend.
 
Target launched several new efforts in an effort to position itself for strong sales during the holidays. Those efforts included opening stores at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving (a decision that drew some criticism) and debuting a new “holiday price match” program, through which it’s matching prices with online competitors. Target is also partnering with luxury retailer Neiman Marcus to offer a limited holiday collection that debuts Saturday.
 
In a monthly sales recording, Target said that November same-store sales were strongest in food, which experienced a “mid-single digit” increase, and in health and beauty, which experienced a “low-single digit” increase. Same-stores sales for home and apparel, meanwhile, both decreased in the “low-single digit” range, and sales of durable goods like appliances and electronics declined in the “mid-single digits.”
 
Same-store sales were strongest in portions of the south and weakest in portions of the northeast—which was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.
 
Year-to-date, Target’s overall sales are up 3.8 percent to total $55.8 billion—and same-store sales are up 3.2 percent.
 
On news of the November sales results, Target shares were trading down about 1.5 percent at $61.87 mid-day Thursday.
 
Target is Minnesota’s second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $68.5 billion in its fiscal year that ended in January. It operates 1,782 stores across the United States and plans to open 124 stores across Canada beginning in March. The retailer said in September that it plans to stop reporting monthly sales results in its 2013 fiscal year.