retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fortune reports that Target's Q4 holiday sales were up 1.9 percent compared to the year before, and that its e-commerce sales for the period were up 34 percent - a performance that bettered Walmart's for the period and raised questions about which one is better positioned to compete with Amazon.

According to the story, "Target’s efforts to get more people to come to its stores - notably with services like in-store pick up of online orders - helped the number of shopper visits rise 1.3%.
Since CEO Brian Cornell took the reins in 2014, Target has focused on leading in a few key categories—baby, kids, wellness, and fashion—to stand out from the crowd. That strategy appears to be paying off."

Target's hometown newspaper, the Star Tribune analyzed it this way:

"During the holidays, Target worked to gain more online sales by offering free shipping on any size order. That promotion seemed to resonate with customers, helping contribute to a sizable increase in online sales. In a conference call with reporters, Chief Financial Officer Cathy Smith said that Target's 34 percent growth in online sales led the industry.

"And while other retailers saw a dip in apparel sales during the holidays due to the warmer weather, she said Target did not see a similar drop, a fact that she attributed to the retailer's work in the last year to improve the quality and style of its offerings. Toys were another bright spot in the quarter with double digit growth, boosted by Star Wars merchandise."
KC's View:
One has to give Cornell credit for engineering a real turnaround at Target ... the company isn't totally out of the woods yet, but he's certainly got it headed in what seems to be the right direction, in part because he was willing to make tough decisions and not belabor them. Bad news never gets better with age, and he was smart enough to realize that.