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Target CEO: Online shopping alone won’t cut it, retailers also need great stores

  • E-commerce isn't everything: Most U.S. retail sales still take place at stores, Target CEO Brian Cornell tells CNBC.
  • Target is opening new stores across the U.S. and remodeling existing locations.
  • The company operates roughly 1,800 stores that allow it to fulfill online orders and grow Target's digital business.

While e-commerce sales are growing, stores will always play an important role in a retailer's overall strategy, Target CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC on Thursday.

"The winning retailers of the future are going to combine great physical assets with the ease that comes along with that digital interaction," Cornell said on "Squawk Box." "For the foreseeable future, the majority of U.S. retail sales will still take place at stores."

Cornell said Target had a successful holiday season thanks to the many investments the company has been making in bricks and mortar. Same-store sales were up more than 3 percent during November and December. The Minneapolis-based retailer has been remodeling its bigger stores in phases, while opening a handful of smaller-format stores in urban areas and near college campuses.

"We want to make Target the easiest place in America to shop" no matter whether a shopper wants to buy online or at the store, Cornell said. That's why the company is expanding initiatives like curbside pickup, same-day delivery in metropolitan markets and two-day shipping for guests.

Rival Walmart recently saw a huge slowdown in its online sales in the latest quarter, sparking fear that the same would happen to Target. But Cornell said the company is still expecting 25 percent e-commerce growth for the year.

Target is set to report fourth-quarter earnings on March 6.