Target reported last week that coronavirus-related purchases – led by groceries and daily staples – contributed to double-digit comp sales growth in March. March 2020 sales climbed more than 100% in Target’s digital channels, far outpacing the single-digit growth experienced in stores.
The company reported that comp sales in March jumped about 40% in food and beverages. Home products comps declined by low single-digits, and apparel and accessories declined by more than 30%.
After pulling its first-quarter guidance in late March, Target said last week that it expects operating margin for the first quarter, which began February 2, to decrease by more than five percentage points. The company cited a number of factors related to the virus, including investments in pay and benefits to support employees, a shift in category mix toward lower-margin segments, a shift in fulfillment from brick-and-mortar to digital, and inventory write-downs in apparel and accessories due to falling sales.
Target also announced that it was extending certain virus-related employee benefits through the end of May, including its $2 per hour wage hike.