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Target CEO: We want to be the safest place to shop in America

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Historically, if you ask any retail executive what they want to be known for by consumers, the quick answer is usually something like: “We want to be seen as the place for the best merchandise at a great price, and an easy to use online experience.”

But as we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely uprooted historical norms in retail (and life in general). It has left retail execs to rethink what their brands should stand for in the post pandemic world. Is it best prices? Is it a wide selection of awesome merchandise? Is it the best plexiglass germ protector at the cash register?

Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell gave Yahoo Finance a first look Tuesday into how he thinks the Target of the future should be viewed by shoppers.

“Safety is going to be more and more important. We want to make sure we’re coupling being the easiest place to shop in America with being the safest place to shop,” Cornell said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. That’s a pretty different spin on the brand from its historical “expect more, pay less” tagline used on TV commercials and online.

To be sure, Cornell and his team have sprung into action to up the safety quotient of shopping at its stores.

In March, Target (TGT) added greeters at each checkout lane to ensure proper social distancing. Stickers on the floor indicate where each shopper should be standing in line. Checkout lanes are cleaned after each transaction. Plexiglass partitions have been added to registers with human cashiers. The company has also instituted contactless delivery and pickup for online orders.

To protect from the coronavirus a social distancing spot is painted on the floor while shoppers wait in line at a Target store in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Friday, April 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The cost of these added safety measures and higher hourly pay for workers in the first quarter: $500 million.

Added Cornell, “The investments we’ve made to make sure when you come into a Target store you feel safe, we’re going to continue to make those investments in safety and we’re going to put a premium on building trust. I think part of what we saw during the first few months of the pandemic is America putting their trust in Target. We want to continue to build that trust no matter what the circumstances are over the next few months and the next few years to make sure we are one of the most trusted places in America where you can shop.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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