Target makes new push to court inflation-weary shoppers, reveals plans to spend more cautiously

Target is attempting to woo Walmart shoppers with new value-oriented initiatives.

·2 min read

Cheap, chic Target (TGT) is taking direct aim at deep value-seeking Walmart (WMT) shoppers in a bid to court inflation-battered U.S. consumers after several challenging quarters.

Target said Tuesday at an analyst day in New York City it would launch or expand more than 10 owned (otherwise known as private label) brands. Target's owned brands, such as kids apparel line Cat & Jack, have long sought to be on-trend yet more affordable options compared to their brand name counterparts.

Furthermore, the discount retailer added it's looking to "appeal to value-conscious shoppers" with more items starting at $3, $10, and $15. The company also plans to introduce more "compelling" promotions and improvements to its Target Circle loyalty program.

People shop at at a Target store during Black Friday sales in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 25, 2022. REUTERS/Jim Vondruska
People shop at at a Target store during Black Friday sales in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 25, 2022. REUTERS/Jim Vondruska

Target CFO Michael Fiddelke told Yahoo Finance that the company is seeing a "cautious" consumer, hence the reinvigorated value messaging. Fiddelke doesn't believe the lower prices will serve as an anchor to profit margins.

The renewed focus on value messaging comes as Target ended 2022 on a mixed note as consumers doubled down on budget-watching efforts as inflation remained elevated.

Target's fourth-quarter comparable sales rose 0.7%, lagging the 8.3% gain put up by rival Walmart U.S. Fourth-quarter earnings for Target clocked in at $1.89, down 41% from a year ago. Earnings did surpass analyst estimates for $1.40 a share.

“We saw a consumer that was feeling the impacts of inflation,” Fiddelke told Yahoo Finance (video above). “Our strongest categories were categories like food and beverage, essentials, and beauty. And we saw slower trends in categories like apparel and home and hardlines.”

For full year 2023, Target sees earnings in a range of $7.75 to $8.75 a share. The Street had expected $9.23 a share.

"With a conservative outlook for 2023, we believe Target has set an achievable bar, and we continue to recommend buying shares," Jefferies analyst Corey Tarlowe said.

To assist in its investments in lower prices for shoppers and somewhat protect margins in the process, Target uncorked 2023 capital expenditure guidance of $4 billion to $5 billion. In 2022, Target spent $5.5 billion in capex.

Brian Sozzi is Yahoo Finance's Executive Editor. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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