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Target CEO: 'America was back in our stores shopping' after stimulus checks

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Target’s physical and digital registers are humming again, in large part to the arrival of stimulus checks to households via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We are all using our home as our office, educating our kids at home. And we saw a big surge in electronics and office supplies. Like most of us, we’re having a lot of meals at home. So we saw a big uptick in categories like home and kitchen,” Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “When April 15 hit and those stimulus checks arrived, we saw a very different shopping pattern. America was back in our stores shopping all of our categories, still taking advantage of the convenience of our contact-free online services.”

Target’s first quarter ended May 2, so it had a few weeks under its belt of consumers receiving their stimulus checks. The late in the quarter consumer spending splurge — seen at some other retailers namely Walmart and Home Depot — powered Target’s first-quarter comparable sales up 10.8%. Digital sales popped 141%. In April alone, digital sales surged 282% as consumers began to shop more discretionary categories such as apparel and home.

Sales momentum appears to have continued for Target into May.

Shoppers wait to enter at a Target store in Glenview, Ill., Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Grocery store chains and other retailers began offering special shopping hours for seniors and other groups considered the most vulnerable to the new coronavirus. The new coronavirus cause mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Says Cornell, “We have seen a renewed energy in the marketplace with consumers and guests shopping our stores, shopping online, buying all categories and we saw some of that continue into May with a much more normalized pattern of people shopping in our stores each and every day, but certainly a surge in online. So we’re watching it carefully. As many others we have taken our guidance off the table for now because the marketplace is just too uncertain, but short-term America has responded to the stimulus and they are back in our stores and also continuing to shop online.”

Target’s stock rose about 1% Tuesday morning.

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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