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Target confident of holiday cheer

Target remains confident about the upcoming holiday season, expecting to increase both sales and market share.

"The early reads on Christmas look quite positive so far," said Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo, during the company's third quarter conference call. "We feel good about it." The retailer also said its private-label program was doing quite well and is a growing part of the business.

At the Target division, Gregg Steinhafel, president, said that this season will be very robust, as in previous years, and so Target will have very aggressive pricing, including its circular pricing, and the use of broadcast advertising.

Executives from Mervyn's and Marshall Field's also said that they are planning promotional activities to increase traffic this season.

Target's credit card operations, more specifically the Target Visa, which now has issued eight million cards since its launch last year, enjoyed strong growth in the third quarter, said Gerry Storch, vice chairman, and receivables now total more than $3 billion. The company is also leveraging the benefits of smart chip technology and will be able to personalize offers to its cardholders with the database it developed that contains billions of line-item transactions, which can be updated on a real-time basis.

And beginning this quarter, Target is partnering with key merchandise vendors such as Proctor & Gamble, Pepsi and Mattel to pilot electronic coupons and test the use of smart chip readers at point of sale, in store, Web-enabled kiosks and at-home smart card readers. "We remain confident that this will be a strong contributor to overall growth," Storch said.

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