Target keeps sales momentum going during pandemic

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NEW YORK (AP) — Target extended its strong sales streak through the holiday quarter and grabbed business from rivals.

Fourth quarter profits soared 66%, the retailer reported Tuesday, and sales jumped 21%, both topping Wall Street expectations.

Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 6.9% compared with the same period last year. Online sales soared 118%. Customer traffic in stores rose 3.7% and average dollars spent rose 15%.

In the previous quarter, same-store sales rose 10%, while online sales spiked 155%,

Target picked up $9 billion in market share from rivals in fiscal 2020.

Big box stores including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart all had huge fourth quarters with Americans still consolidating shopping trips.

Like all big-box stores, Target was allowed to stay open during the early onset of the pandemic last year, while department stores and mall-based retailers were forced to temporarily close because they were considered non-essential. That increased the dominance of Target and other discounters.

Target, which had already been expanding its delivery services before the pandemic, pushed even harder in that area. Same-day services such as picking up orders inside the store or at curbside, soared 212%, led by drive-up service, which increased more than 500%.

And it’s omnipresent store locations have been an advantage. More than 95% of Target’s fourth quarter sales were fulfilled by its own stores.

Target has also announced a series of partnerships that should help drive more shoppers to its stores. Late last year, it signed a deal with beauty chain Ulta Beauty that will place Ulta shops in more than 100 Target stores by mid-2021.

Target said that earnings reached $1.38 billion, or $2.73 per share, in the fourth quarter. That compares with $834 million, or $1.63 per share. Adjusted results were $2.67 per share, which topped estimates of $2.54 per share, according to FactSet.

Sales rose 21% to $28 billion for the quarter. Analysts were expecting $27.4 billion.

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