It may only be the first week of July, but Target, one of the nation’s largest retail chains, is already pushing back-to-school sales just as legions of vacationing school children everywhere have only started getting into the swing of summer.
In announcing the launch of its early and expanded promotion campaign Wednesday (July 6), the Minneapolis-based operator of 2,000 stores, an eCommerce website and the delivery service Shipt said this year’s event would be longer and also incorporate more ways to save — including new outreach efforts to teachers and college students.
“We know the back-to-school season signals an important milestone for millions of families across the country — and we’re here to help by introducing even more ways for guests to save and find everything they need all in one convenient location,” Target Chief Marketing Officer Jill Sando said in the company’s press release, which included three separate references to the retailer’s plan to offer “all-season-long low prices.”
Too Much, Too Soon?
Although Target’s back-to-school sale is slated to officially run from July 17 through Sept. 10, the retailer pointed out that customers could immediately begin to access in-store and online sales of curated seasonal items if they wanted to start early.
At the same time, the retailer also pointed out that its Deal Days event, which overlays Amazon Prime Day and runs from July 11 to 13, is also fast approaching and would serve as its “biggest sales event of the summer.”
With so many sales happening all at once, it begs the question whether Target might be getting ahead of itself or even cannibalizing future sales that might normally not happen until early- to mid-August, a time that coincides with numerous state sales tax holidays designed to give back-to-school shoppers a break.
There’s also the reality that Target has so far emerged as the only major retail rival of Amazon to match its Prime Day event this year, whereas in years past, the likes of Walmart, Best Buy and others would routinely schedule parallel events.
Right to Plan
For its part, Target’s head start on back-to-school sales and more is right to plan, after the retailer announced its intention to right-size its bloated inventory in May as it reported weak first-quarter earnings results.
Three weeks later, Target spooked the sector again when it told investors that it was pivoting to aggressive cost-cutting mode in the face of rampant inflation of nearly 9% and a rapidly changing economic environment.
“Since we reported our first-quarter results, we have continued to monitor external conditions and have determined the necessary actions to remain nimble in the current environment,” Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said an investor update statement released June 7, which also noted that the retailer would be rolling out aggressive merchandise markdowns to whittle down inventory, while also outright canceling other orders it deemed unnecessary.
As much as Target’s back-to-school campaign might be on the early side, the retailer has tailored its sale this year to fit the current macroeconomic climate and the increasing level of restricted household budgets. Not only is the retailer adding an additional six weeks to its teacher prep event, but it is also expanding a 20% college student discount program while touting a traditional stable of thousands of specially curated back-to-school basics priced from $1 to $10 that is aimed at the budget-minded shoppers.