Target’s holiday sales surge amid COVID-19 pandemic

Target said its sales surged during the holidays as hunkered-down shoppers bought more goods online, the latest in a string of solid reports amid the pandemic.

The “cheap chic” discount chain said Wednesday its comparable sales surged 17.2 percent in November and December from a year earlier. While sales at brick-and-mortar stores rose 4.2 percent, the company’s online sales more than doubled, surging 102 percent.

Minneapolis-based Target was among the retailers that has benefitted the most during the pandemic as its 1,900 stores have remained open throughout the past year and many consumers used them as a one-stop shopping destination.

“The case for Target to retain its momentum into 2021 remains one of the strongest in retail, in our view,” Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom wrote in a research note, citing the just-released $600 stimulus checks that are hitting consumers’ bank accounts.

Comparable sales for home goods soared, rising in the low-20 percent range, while demand for electronics and sports equipment also grew by about the same amount, the company said. 

Food and beverage sales maintained average growth trends, but demand for beauty products grew in the low teens and comparable sales growth for apparel increased in the high-single digit range, the company said. 

Customers were also spending more at checkout with a 12.3 percent increase in the average transaction — and apparently are showing no signs of letting up.

“We’ve seen continued strong sales trends in the new year,” Target chief executive Brian Cornell said in a statement. “And as we turn to our 2021 plans, our team is focused on continuing to build on the guest engagement and significant market share we gained throughout 2020.”

Target’s shares dipped 1.3 percent in early trading on Wednesday.