Target sales surge during pandemic

National

FILE – In this Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 file photo, people walk through the parking lot at a Target store in Oklahoma City. Target has reported that its sales as measured by a key metric registered their strongest performance to date for the company’s fiscal second quarter. It’s the latest evidence that big-box stores are becoming consumers’ prime shopping destinations during the pandemic. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Target reported recorded-setting sales growth online and at established stores over the past three months, more evidence that big box retailers have become essential points of supply during the pandemic.

Online sales surged 195% and same-store sales spiked 10.9%, second-quarter growth that is unprecedented in the company’s 58-year history.

Walmart, Home Depot and now Target have reported eye-popping sales over the past three months as Americans limit their supply runs to fewer stores and do more cooking and do-it-yourself projects at home.

The shift in behavior is reshaping the retail landscape at the expense of mall-based retailers and other stores forced to close this year. Many were struggling before the pandemic because of what Americans buy and where they buy it.

The pandemic has put those retailers in further in peril.

Dozens, including J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J.Crew, have filed for bankruptcy protection this year. Another wave is expected in the fall with the U.S. failure to contain the virus accelerating the demise of more companies in the sector.

Americans came to rely on big box retailers for supplies early when the economy was under lock down. The surge in new infections is keeping Americans closer to home in many places, and they’re increasingly relying on same-day delivery and curbside pickup. Big box retailers had pushed aggressively into those areas before the pandemic, attempting to keep pace with Amazon.com.

Also on Wednesday, Lowe’s reported comparable store sales in the U.S. surged 35.1% and online orders more than doubled. A day earlier, Walmart reported online sales nearly doubled in its most recent quarter after it expanded online services. And sales at established Walmart’s in the U.S. jumped 9.3%. Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, reported a 23.4% increase in global sales at established stores Tuesday.

Target said that it added 10 million new online customers during the first half of the year and gained $5 billion in market share. Clothing sales, which tumbled 20% in the first three months of the year as people focused on necessities, saw double-digit growth in the second quarter.

Drive-up services increased more than seven-fold. And sales related to in-store pick up increased more than 60% during the quarter.

Target earned $1.69 billion, or $3.35 per share. That compares with $938 million, or $1.83 per share for the year-ago period.

Removing one-time costs and benefits, Target earned $3.38 a share, blowing past the $1.63 projected by Wall Street, according to a survey by FactSet.

Revenue rose 25% to $22.7 billion, also exceeding expectations.

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