Target Has Hot Holiday, Expands CMO Role

While leading department stores fared poorly in America’s big-spending holiday shopping spree, Target is emerging as a star, with comparable store sales climbing 5.7%.

And while digital sales rose by 29% in the November/December holiday period, the Minneapolis-based retailer says the real strength was in online sales fulfilled in stores, with results in its Store Pickup and Drive Up programs jumping 60%.

The company also announced a major change in its marketing leadership, with chief marketing officer Rick Gomez expanding his role to become chief marketing and digital officer. Target is also promoting Katie Boylan, senior vice president, communications, to chief communications officer.

Target says the seasonal spice came in all five of its core merchandise categories, with toys, baby and seasonal gift items leading the way. The company says it is on track to deliver full-year sales results that will be its best since 2005, as well as market share gains in all core categories.



While consumers were spending up a storm, with Mastercard SpendingPulse reporting an overall gain of 5.1%, Target’s good news comes amid much gloomier reports from competitors.

JC Penney’s sales fell 3.5%, while Macy’s managed an anemic 0.7% gain. Kohl’s results also disappointed investors, up just 1.2%. And Marketwatch is reporting Kohl’s plans to close four stores, as well as one of its customer-service centers, and says the retailer intends to offer a retirement program to long-term employees to cut costs.

Department stores aren’t the only disappointments. L Brands, parent of Victoria’s Secret, says net sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 5 fell to $2.48 billion, from $2.52 billion in the comparable period of the prior year, while comparable store sales were flat.

Big winners include Amazon, as well as Costco, which just reported a 9.8% rise in November sales, and a 7.8% increase in December, to $14.42 billion, up from $14.3 billion last year.

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