Target is the latest retailer to get a major sales bump from the coronavirus pandemic, reporting that quarter-to-date, the company has seen comparable-sales growth of more than 7%. Food and beverage and essentials were up 20%, hardlines increased more than 16%, home saw slight growth, and apparel and accessories decreased more than 20%.
The company notes that in the middle of March, as stay-at-home orders were put in place in many areas of the country, sales trends in stores softened significantly while digital sales accelerated dramatically.
This has led to record-setting digital growth -- more than 100% across Target's online channels in March. Month-to-date for April, digital comparable sales have increased by more than 275%.
"While we expect our short-term profitability to be affected by COVID-19, we expect to have the financial capacity to emerge from this crisis in a position of strength," said Michael Fiddelke, Target's EVP and CFO. "Having established an even stronger bond with our guests during this unprecedented time, we expect to have a compelling long-term opportunity to grow profitably and gain additional market share in the years ahead.”
Employee pay & benefits
Target is extending many of the COVID-19 team member benefits that were announced in March. Employees will still earn a $2-per-hour temporary wage increase through May 30, and team members who are 65 or older, pregnant, or who have underlying medical conditions as defined by the CDC, will receive 30 days' paid leave.
The retailer is providing protective equipment in the form of face masks and gloves, dedicated shopping hours, and discounts to support its team members. Unlike some other retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, that are requiring temperature checks before starting a shift, Target will provide employees with thermometers upon request to perform at-home checks.
Target is also monitoring store occupancy and metering traffic. Additional staff for same-day services such as contactless Drive Up aim to make online purchases smoother.
"Because of our strong business model, we are able to make considerable investments to support our team, put protections in place, and adjust to serve our guests who are being advised to shelter in place and avoid stores," said Brian Cornell, Target's chairman and CEO. "As a result, we are seeing record-setting digital growth, strong demand for our same-day fulfillment services and broad market-share gains across each of our core categories. While this crisis will certainly put near-term pressure on our profitability, that pressure is far outweighed by doing right by our team and our guests. We’re confident the actions we’re taking today will drive growth and greater guest affinity over the long term."
Target operates more than 1,800 stores, 39 distribution centers and Target.com. The Minneapolis-based company is No. 15 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.