Shop­pers re­turn­ing to Tar­get

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Anne D’Innocenzio

new york » Tar­get’s ef­forts to draw­shop­pers back into its stores are pay­ing off.

Take Annabel Bernardo, who once bought trendy clothes at Tar­get but cut back af­ter she felt it lost its fash­ion edge. Now, Bernardo ofRockvilleCen­ter, Md., is back: “The store is look­ing much bet­ter. It’s look­ing more up­scale.”

That Tar­get has had five con­sec­u­tive quar­ters of in­creases in a key sales mea­sure sug­gests shop­pers are re­turn­ing to the dis­counter that pi­o­neered the con­cept of putting af­ford­able, chic fash­ions un­der the sameroof as gro­ceries and toi­letries.

That’s good news for Tar­get, which had set­backs in re­cent years, in­clud­ing amajor debit and credit card hack that af­fected sales for months and a mis­step that led toa fo­cu­songro­ceries in­stead of the cheap chic fash­ions its cus­tomers craved.

The sales im­prove­ments come as Tar­get con­tin­ues a turn­around plan it started af­ter it hired CEO Brian Cor­nell in 2014. As part of the plan, Tar­get got rid of its money-los­ingCana­dian oper­a­tions and re­vamped its man­age­ment team.

The key to lur­ing shop­pers back has been changes in stores. Tar­get has been up­dat­ing its fash­ion, baby prod­ucts and home decor. It also has launched a plus­size col­lec­tion for women, Ava & Viv, mark­ing its first ex­clu­sive fash­ion line in more than a decade.

Ex­perts say it will be key for Tar­get to dis­tin­guish it­self from other dis­coun­ters while not be­ing per­ceived as too pricey for mid­dle­class shop­pers.

“It’s a tricky bal­anc­ing act,” said Craig John­son, pres­i­dent of re­tail con­sul­tancy Re­tail Growth Part­ners.

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