By Sandy Skrovan, U.S. research director, Planet Retail
Target closed the books on its weakest holiday season performance since 2008, recording a paltry 0.4% same-store sales gain in the fourth quarter. Dragging down Target’s fourth quarter results were weaker-than-planned sales during the critical November/December time-frame, with 1.0% comps in November 2012 followed by a flat December compared with the same year-ago periods.
Walmart proved the victor over Target for the 2012 holiday season, logging a 1.0% increase in its fourth quarter. But Target won the year overall since, unlike Walmart, its affluent shopper base tends to be more insulated from economic swings. For the year, Target’s retail sales were up 5.1% with comparable-store sales up 2.7%.
Fortunately for Target, it ended its fiscal year on a high note, as shoppers sought post-holiday deals in January as well as a glimpse of upcoming spring fashions. Solid January comps helped prop up fourth quarter performance – ever so slightly – giving Target momentum entering fiscal 2013. The biggest initiative, by far, in the coming year will be the long-awaited launch in Canada. It’s been a long time coming, but the groundwork has now been laid and Target is set for its March 2013 debut in Canada.