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Five reasons why Target's sales growth may be more than a pandemic-related blip

Key Points
  • Investors and analysts are trying to figure out if retailers that have shown strength during the pandemic have formed lasting customer habits or if their performance is just a blip.
  • On an earnings call, Target CEO Brian Cornell laid out a long-term vision for the company that extends beyond the pandemic, but capitalizes on its recent gains.
  • Target CFO Michael Fiddelke said the company has strengthened its relationship with customers during a pivotal time. "We have long known that engagement with guests at a time when their habits are changing is an incredibly important factor in deepening long-term loyalty," he said.
Target retail store in San Ramon, California, May 30, 2020.
Getty Images

Target delivered another strong quarter on Wednesday and easily surged past analysts' expectations. That hasn't kept investors from asking whether the retailer's sharp growth curve may end when the coronavirus pandemic does.

This week, in particular, investors and analysts have sorted through a complex set of factors — particularly for the retail industry. Across the U.S., coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly. Shoppers in some regions are stocking up on staples like toilet paper again. The all-important holiday season is off to an early start. And progress toward a Covid-19 vaccine has raised hope about the end of the global health crisis and questions about what life will look like after it.

That's created confusion and skepticism among industry watchers who are trying to figure out if retailers that have shown strength during the pandemic — such as Target, Walmart and Home Depot — have formed lasting customer habits or if their performance is just a pandemic-related blip.

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