Big Jump for Target Sales

Target (NYSE:TGT) said Wednesday comparable sales rose 17.2% in November and December, as customers bought matching pajamas and gingerbread house kits to celebrate a cozy holiday at home during the pandemic.

While online sales remained robust, shoppers also visited Target’s stores and spent more money per purchase than they did last holiday season. Combined transactions in Target stores and on its website rose 4.3% and average tickets grew by 12.3% year over year.

Despite the strong results during the peak shopping season, the pace of Target’s sales growth slowed slightly compared with the gains it logged in fiscal third quarter. The deceleration underscores the challenge that Target faces in the quarters ahead.

As more Americans get vaccinated, the company will have to prove it can hold on to market share gains, even as consumers feel more comfortable making numerous trips to smaller stores or returning to malls.

The pandemic may permanently change the cadence of the holiday shopping season, too. Target said its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day 2021.

The retailer had opted to remain closed last Thanksgiving due to the health crisis. To spread out sales and thin crowds, Target began sales weeks before Thanksgiving, which previously had been the starting line for the search for gifts and stocking stuffers. It also put more of its deals online.

Target said comparable digital sales more than doubled in November and December compared with the year-ago period, while comparable store sales grew by 4.2%

TGT shares slid $2.78, or 1.4%, to $196.32.