Is Target’s Disappointing Quarter An Omen For Retail Sales or An Outlier? - The Average Joe


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    Is Target’s Disappointing Quarter An Omen For Retail Sales or An Outlier?

    Noah Weidner

    May 22, 2024

    For a company that is literally named Target ($TGT), it sure knows how to miss the mark on quarterly earnings. While Walmart ($WMT) hits record highs, Target is taking aggressive steps to win back shoppers and reverse its 45% decline since 2021.

    Spray n’ pray: In its first-quarter earnings, the retail giant failed to impress shoppers and investors — marking its fourth consecutive quarter of declining sales. Comparable sales fell 3.7% year-over-year as cost-conscious Americans turned to cheaper competitors. Even a slight uptick in discretionary spending couldn’t save the quarter — with $TGT falling 7% yesterday.

    • Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, said shoppers’ biggest challenge was “inflation in food and household essentials,” which made up 52% of the company’s 2023 revenue.
    • Ahead of its paltry earnings report, the company announced price cuts on over 5K “frequently shopped items,” including “milk, meat, bread,” and more.

    Shoppers finally get some relief

    Target’s struggles aren’t unique. Customer trust in brands has fallen — with many businesses sounding the alarm on inflation and interest rates impacting spending. To return to growth and win back customers, companies are reversing their COVID tactics with discounts and price cuts.

    • Alongside Target, furniture giant IKEA has made three rounds of price cuts on thousands of products — while other grocers like Giant Foods, Aldi, and Walmart have also reduced prices.
    • Fast food chains like Wendy’s ($WEN) and McDonald’s ($MCD) are offering discounted “meal deals” to win back customers without cutting prices outright.

    Data says… In the week ending May 18, same-store retail sales rose 5.5%. While this is lower than the double-digit gains during peak remote work days in 2021, it’s higher than in 2023 when retail sales went negative. Retailers might have stay-at-home shoppers workers to thank. Data from Mastercard shows that online retail shoppers spent an average of $375B above the 2015-2019 levels, with regions having a higher percentage of remote workers spending more. So you can rest knowing you’re not the only one alt-tabbing between Zoom meetings and Amazon.

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