Holiday Central

Target joins retailers sticking with Thanksgiving openings

Tasos Katopodis | Getty Images

Target is sticking to what it knows this holiday — but with a slight twist.

The discount retailer said Wednesday that it's bringing back several of the promotions that pushed its comparable sales higher last Christmas, including rotating deals on certain categories stretching across 10 days.

Meanwhile, the company's stores will again open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, in what will be the third straight year they've done so. Shops will remain open until 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or midnight Black Friday, depending on the location.

Target stuck with its 6 p.m. opening time after studying the response from its customers and workers, as well as the impact on its business, said Janna Potts, Target's chief stores officer.

"Shopping on the evening of Thanksgiving really has become an activity for the entire family to enjoy," she said.

For those who prefer to stay at home, the retailer will launch its deals on early Thanksgiving morning.

Though Target's sales have been challenged over the past few months, the mass merchant reported a solid holiday quarter in 2015. It included a nearly 2 percent increase in comparable sales, driven by an uptick in traffic. Its digital sales topped the broader industry's growth, jumping 34 percent.

But the retailer snapped nearly two consecutive years of same-store sales gains in the fiscal second quarter, as fewer shoppers visited its stores. It blamed the competitive retail environment, a slow cycle of product launches in electronics and an overemphasis on fashion and discretionary items in its marketing.

To correct those problems, the bull's-eye retailer said last month that 60 percent of its marketing will speak about value this holiday, an increase of about 20 percent from last season.

"Compelling promotions must be part of our equation," said Mark Tritton, Target's chief merchandising officer.

The company is also sprucing up its electronics section with virtual reality and smart home technologies. Some of its Black Friday deals include the Apple Watch Series 1 for $198, or roughly $70 off; and the Fitbit Charge HR for $89.95, or a $40 discount.

Meanwhile, Target is repeating last season's free shipping promotion, and extending the offer an extra week. That deal eliminates the minimum spending requirement shoppers need to hit to receive their package at no charge.

Despite its corrective actions, questions remain about Target's prospects. They include the role of its grocery business, which is being rethought.

Target will update Wall Street on its initiatives when it reports third-quarter earnings Nov. 16.