TheStreet reporter Brian Sozzi is visiting a dozen key retailers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to assess their performance during one of the biggest shopping events of the year.
Islip, NY (TheStreet) -- Shoppers were gobbling up more than just mouth-watering deals on pajamas and boots at Target's (TGT) Thanksgiving Day opening, the latest sign the big-box retailer is recovering from a data breach last holiday season that dented consumer confidence.
"Electronics are off to a strong start with top sellers including the [Apple (AAPL) ] iPads, Beats by Dre Solo headphones, and Nikon (NINOY) Coolpix," said a Target spokesperson in an emailed statement to TheStreet. "Housewares are also popular."
The spokesperson also said that online orders were strong, suggesting that shoppers have gotten over whatever hesitation they might have had giving their credit card information to the retailer.
Target's comments square with observations made in four visits to the company's stores in the New York area Thanksgiving night, from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Red Target baskets were jam-packed with high-definition televisions and premium headphones from Apple's Beats by Dre, higher-margin items as opposed to the door-buster merchandise that big retailers advertise heavily in order to drive store traffic on Black Friday.
Further, consumers were heavily shopping the non-basic apparel sections, such as women's boots and the newly introduced Toms brand, which sells shirts, bags and glassware.
The pattern is consistent with Target's recent performance. The company said it was running ahead of its sales forecast for November in its third quarter earnings call on Nov. 19.
If Target's solid start to the holiday season is sustained throughout Black Friday weekend, it could lead to better-than-expected fourth-quarter same-store sales and earnings. Target is expecting a fourth-quarter same-store sales increase in the U.S. of about 2%. Adjusted earning per share is expected to be in the range of $1.13 a share to $1.23 a share.
A year ago, Target posted a same-store sales decrease of 2.5% and a 21.2% plunge in adjusted earnings, which reflected lost business from a massive data breach that infected consumer's confidence in the company.
Target operates 1,801 stores in the U.S.
One evening of Thanksgiving sales does not guarantee success for the holiday season, but so far the shopping activity bodes well for the resurgent retailer.
Target's Black Friday Scorecard
Number of stores visited: Four
Location: Long Island, N.Y.
Times visited: 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., Thanksgiving Day
Bag size (Big bags means big items which mean more money for the retailer): Large and included items other than door-busters advertised online and in Target's circular.
Crowd size (How big are the crowds): Lighter than expected for the opening, but the post-dinner wave was strong.
Staff size (Is there enough staff to handle the crowds): Checkout lines moved well.
Out of stock areas (Empty shelves): Beats by Dre headphones, some high-definition televisions, women's boots and Ninja Turtle action figures.
Too much stock (Overstocked on key items): Mattel (MAT) Barbie dolls.
Desperate promotions (Discounts too big compared to competitors): Nothing irrational for the start of the holiday season.
A lonely Target dog -- big lines and big crowds in the background. Long Island, NY.