Change doesn't come easy—particularly when you're trying to move the needle at a company that rakes in hundreds of billions in annual sales.
Still, when new CEOs took over at two of the country's largest retailers within a three-day time span last year, experts knew major changes were in store for the industry.
As Greg Foran and Brian Cornell mark their one-year anniversaries at Walmart U.S. and Target next month, they've each made bold decisions that—although they caused short-term pain for their companies' bottom lines—should better position them for top-line gains moving forward.
For Target, that meant exiting its newly launched but money-sucking Canada business, and parting ways with its longtime merchandising chief. At Wal-Mart, it was lifting the minimum wage for thousands of its U.S. workers, in hopes of making its stores more appealing to shoppers.
The question now is whether they can capitalize on the momentum they've started to build, particularly as they compete for a similar customer base in overlapping categories.
Although both retailers cater to a still-struggling consumer, the financials are starting to trend in their favor. Both big-box stores posted two consecutive quarters of traffic gains in the most recent periods. They've also recorded three straight quarters of same-store sales gains, following a string of flat or lower results.