Target (TGT) is tapping California to test several new initiatives for its stores.
At an event held in New York City, Target said it will pilot a new program called "LA25" this spring. The discounter is taking its 50 top store enhancements that it has been testing across the country, and putting them all together in 25 stores in Los Angeles.
California is Target's largest market with more than 260 stores. A Target spokeswoman explained the 25 stores were chosen due to their density as well as their mix, with several stores being in Target's smaller format model.
Some of the enhancements set to be deployed include improved fixtures, dedicated service stations for people to pick up online orders, as well as the addition of specialists in key departments to help provide product knowledge.
Target will also deploy what it calls "digital service advisers" to assist in navigating the chain's website and mobile app Cartwheel. These advisers will be stationed at a kiosk in the store, said the Target spokeswoman.
LA25 follows several upgrades Target made to its stores last year to drive sales.
The company added people in the beauty department to provide information on products. It outfitted the apparel department with mannequins. And in perhaps the biggest move, Target inked a deal to open CVS pharmacies inside of its stores -- these are currently opening across the country.
Target's efforts appear to be paying off.
Same-store sales rose 1.9% in the fourth quarter, besting estimates for a 1.5% gain and trumping the 0.6% same-store sales gain seen at Walmart's (WMT) U.S. division. Target's store traffic rose 1.3%, outpacing the 0.7% increase for Walmart, and has now increased for five straight quarters.
"To me Target embodies the kind of company that knows it must compete at a much higher level on all fronts and Cornell gets it as witnessed by the huge increase in on-line business, especially versus Walmart," said TheStreet's Jim Cramer, portfolio manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.
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