NEW YORK – Online sales at Target more than doubled as the pandemic put millions in lockdown during the first quarter, revealing further the critical role big box stores played in getting supplies to an immobilized population.
The Minneapolis company reported Wednesday that comparable-store sales, which include online purchases, rose 10.8% for the three-month period that ended May 2.
That was fueled by a 12.5% jump in the number of items customers bought with each trip to the store as families made major restocking runs, but fewer of them.
“Last quarter was unlike anything I have ever seen,” Target's CEO Brian Cornell told reporters on a conference call. “It was intense. It was volatile. It was stressful for our guests and for the country.”
The pandemic has widened an already growing rift between big box retailers that deftly followed consumers online, and those, particularly mall-based clothing chains, that have struggled.
Walmart this week reported a 74% surge in U.S. online sales for the first quarter. Same-store sales rose 10% at its U.S. stores.
J.Crew, Stage Stores, Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy protection this month.
A yearslong campaign by Walmart and Target to challenge Amazon online was a dry run for a pandemic.
Target had already transformed its 1,800 stores into distribution hubs, putting it in a better position than even Amazon to keep supplies flowing. Its stores were directly involved in supplying goods for 80% of online sales. Same-day services, such as curbside pickup at stores for things ordered online, nearly tripled.
At a glance
• Revenue report: Target said it saw an 11.3% increase in revenue, which hit $19.62 billion for the quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $19.02 billion.
• Earnings result: Net earnings slid 64% to $284 million, or 56 cents, or 59 cents when adjusted for non-recurring events. That's far better than the per-share profit of 44 cents that Wall Street was expecting, according to a survey of analysts by FactSet.