Target CEO Brian Cornell says 'no sign' consumer spending is slowing ahead of holidays

  • Earlier this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell raved about the U.S. economy, saying it was one of the best he'd ever seen in his career.
  • On Tuesday, he said there's absolutely "no sign" the consumer spending environment is cooling off, as Target heads into this holiday season.
  • Target's fiscal third-quarter earnings fell short of analysts' expectations, as investments in supply chain weighed on profits.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said Tuesday that there's absolutely "no sign" consumer spending is cooling off as retailers head into the holiday season.

"There is no indicator as we sit here today that the consumer environment is slowing as we enter the holiday season," Cornell told reporters on a conference call.

He raved about the U.S. economy earlier this year, saying it was one of the best he'd ever seen in his career. That was after the company reported unprecedented growth in same-store sales and foot traffic for the fiscal second quarter.

However, Target's same-store sales for the fiscal third quarter came in slightly short of analysts' expectations, the company said Tuesday. Profit margins were slimmer as the company invested more in its same-day delivery service and raised its minimum wage from $11 to $12 an hour this year, with the goal of paying $15 an hour by 2020. Shoppers were also seen spending slightly less per trip than they did during the same period last year.

But the American consumer is still healthy, Cornell told reporters on a conference call, adding that shoppers are making more frequent "fill-in" trips to Target stores. Transactions were up 5.3 percent during the third quarter. "People are coming to our stores."

Target shares fell by about 10 percent in morning trading as investors worried about profit margins heading into the holidays, especially as e-commerce sales continue to grow. Target reported digital sales growth of 49 percent during the third quarter. The stock is up by about 7 percent for the year.