Target, the eighth-largest retail chain in the U.S., saw its stock plunge 25 percent on Wednesday after announcing a drop in profit for the first quarter of 2022. Its results were “eerily similar” to the top U.S. retailer Walmart, whose Q1 earnings were reported Tuesday, helping to push its stock price down 11 percent.
Walmart fell another 6 percent in afternoon trading Wednesday, while Target was also on track for its worst day in 35 years.
Target’s earnings miss was driven by a shift in spending away from key categories such as apparel and home while the company made gains in food, beverage and essentials. Beauty was also strong at Target in the first quarter.
Target CEO Cornell said, “While we anticipated a post-stimulus slowdown in these categories, and we expect the consumer to continue refocusing their spending away from goods and services, we didn’t anticipate the magnitude of that shift.”
With inflation growing at a 40-year high rate, consumers are concerned about inflation and gasoline prices. Target said it’s focused on value, according to the company’s chief growth officer, Christina Hennington.
High savings, higher wages, and the high rate of employment are helping shoppers, but spending is moving towards travel and outdoor activities, Hennington said. “Many guests are sharing their uncertainty of the overall state of the economy but are feeling more positive about their personal finances.”
RBC Capital Markets called the earnings results from Target and Walmart “eerily similar,” Marketwatch reported.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the changes in U.S. retail are unusual. “While we’ve experienced high levels of inflation in our international markets over the years, U.S. inflation being this high and moving so quickly, both in food and general merchandise, is unusual.”
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Traffic at Target stores and website increased by nearly 4 percent year over year but sales growth numbers include the effects of inflation which is making everything more expensive, from freight costs to groceries.
“It has been a wild 48 hours in retail,” Jefferies Analyst Steph Wissink said on Yahoo Finance Live. “We heard from Walmart yesterday and Target today. One of the things that stood out to us was the common patterns. We are seeing both companies are signaling that their stores are seeing strong traffic versus e-commerce. Both are seeing high costs to execute their business. Consumers are moving more towards essentials versus discretionary merchandise.”
That movement towards essentials “is not going to abate anytime soon,” Wissink added. “There were a lot of conversations among investors that maybe inflation for the consumer has peaked, but these companies are giving us very different signals that we are still seeing costs rise more than prices.”