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Target Tries to Shake Off ‘Pandemic Hangover’ as Sales Slump

After seeing revenues surge during the pandemic, Target has been facing tough times.

A report Sunday (June 30) by the Financial Times (FT) examines the retailer’s recent struggles: sales have slipped in part to protests against its LGBTQ+ themed products, and affluent consumers have turned their attention to Walmart. It’s led some observers to wonder if the brand has lost its spark.

“They have a pandemic hangover,” Chris Walton, a former Target executive who runs Omni Talk, a retail sector-focused media company, told the FT.

The report noted some of the changes the company has made recently to “get back to growth,” as CEO Brian Cornell put it. For example, Target has begun looking for a new chief marketing officer, as Lisa Roathhas been in the job less than a year — takes on a new role.

In addition, Target recently unveiled a program that lets some third-party merchants from Shopify sell products through its online marketplace, while also announcing reduced prices on thousands of different products.

And as covered here last week, Target has become the latest retailer to try to woo shoppers in the face of Amazon’s popular Prime Day sales event.

Target says that its Target Circle Week, open to all members of its free loyalty program, will run July 7-13, days ahead of Amazon’s Prime Day event on July 16 and 17.

“Since Target Circle is free to join, Target Circle Week gives our guests more deals — at no cost — so you can stock up on everything from backyard cookout essentials to back-to-school supplies,” said Cara Sylvester, Target’s vice president and chief guest experience officer.

“We believe saving should be simple and shopping should be fun, and our new Target Circle delivers just that with flexible options and a range of benefits to meet every shopper’s needs.”

In other recent Target news, the company is reportedly lowering the threshold at which its workers can try to prevent nonviolent theft.

New guidelines expected to be unveiled this summer reduce the threshold to $50 from the previous $100, Bloomberg News reported Friday (June 28), citing unnamed sources.

Retailers have been dealing with a rash of shoplifting incidents. The National Retail Federation reported in September of last year that shrink cost retailers $112.1 billion in 2022, compared to $93.9 billion the prior year. Internal and external theft made up nearly two-thirds of that shrink.

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