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Target sales growth hits record as faster delivery boosts online demand

Aug 19 (Reuters) - Target Corp on Wednesday reported its best quarterly comparable sales growth and online revenue that nearly tripled as shoppers lapped up videogames, kitchenware and clothes during the pandemic using the retailer’s same-day delivery services.

The surging demand seen at big-box chains at the height of the lockdown, has continued into the second quarter even as restrictions ease, with shoppers using their stimulus checks to shop for non-essentials, such as tablets and beauty products.

“The biggest change we saw from Q1 to Q2 ... was the exceptional growth we saw in in-store shopping in an environment where many Americans were turning to digital to fulfill their needs,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell told reporters.

In the second quarter ended Aug. 1, the U.S. retailer’s apparel sales grew by double-digits compared to a 20% decline in the first quarter, with electronics sales up more than 70%.

Through the pandemic-ridden first half of the year, that saw numerous bankruptcies of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, Target said it grabbed about $5 billion in market share across categories.

The retailer also echoed bigger rival Walmart in describing the start to the back-to-school season as slow because of uncertainty around when students would go back to classrooms.

“As we move into Q4 we can expect a hard fought election and a holiday season that like so much of this year, is likely to be unprecedented,” Cornell said.

The company’s comparable sales, which include online and store sales, jumped 24.3% in the quarter trouncing expectations of a 8.2% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Comparable digital sales surged 195%, driven largely by the success of Target’s same-day services, such as in-store pick up, Drive up, and Shipt, which grew 273% in the quarter.

Target’s net earnings rose to $1.69 billion from $938 million a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, the company earned $3.38 per share.

Total revenue rose 24.7% to $22.98 billion.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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