Target, Nike Halt Political Contributions After D.C. Riot

Target also revealed holiday sales were boosted by online shopping.

By Kellie Ell on January 13, 2021 WWD

Target Corp. and Nike are joining the list of companies pausing political contributions as a result of last week’s pro-Trump violence on Capitol Hill. “The TargetCitizens PAC is funded through voluntary contributions from our team members and contributes in a bipartisan manner to a range of federal candidates and organizations,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “We know that there isn’t a single candidate who aligns completely with Target or our team members on every issue, which is why we rely on established criteria like a candidate’s impact on our business, committee assignments and more when we make contributions. Target is fully transparent about our PAC contributions and provides regular updates on our corporate website. Given the political volatility of the past year, including last week’s events, we are temporarily pausing all political donations.” By Wednesday, Nike had joined the growing list of companies — along with Amazon, Goldman Sachs and Airbnb, among others — that said they were pausing political contributions to any member of Congress who voted to override the results of the election of President-elect Joe Biden. It was President Donald Trump’s and members of Congress’ continued claims of a fraudulent election that helped spark the mob’s storming of the Capitol. “Nike’s Political Action Committee [PAC] helps our employees support elected officials who understand our business and whose values align with our mission of serving athletes,” the company said in a statement. “These nonpartisan values rely upon upholding the principles of democracy. Although we’re not yet making contributions at this point in the election cycle, Nike’s PAC will not support any member of Congress who ignores these principles, including those who voted to decertify the Electoral College results.” The news follows both Facebook and Twitter permanently removing President Donald Trump from their platforms, while Shopify dropped sites selling pro-Trump merchandise. Meanwhile, Target revealed holiday sales Wednesday morning, with total comparable sales growing 17.2 percent, year-over-year, for the November-December period, driven by skyrocketing growth in online sales as well as Target’s leveraging of its physical store base to fulfill digital orders. “The momentum in our business continued in the holiday season with notable market share gains across our entire product portfolio,” Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target, said in a statement. “We’re very pleased with our results and the strength of our performance is a reflection of the tireless work of our team to support our guests through a safe, convenient and inspirational experience. Throughout the holidays, we delivered joy for holiday shoppers while focusing on safety — adjusting promotions to reduce crowding while delivering easy, contactless fulfillment options through drive-up and Shipt.” Bright spots included the company’s digital comparable sales, up 102 percent year-over-year, which Target said was largely driven by its same-day fulfillment services: order online, pick up in store; drive up, and Shipt. In fact, drive-up services surged more than 500 percent during the holiday period, year-over-year, while Shipt grew more than 300 percent. Moreover, between store-originated sales, same-day services and Target’s ship-from-store capabilities, about 95 percent of the company’s sales during the period were fulfilled in stores. Traffic also grew during the period, up 4.3 percent, year-over-year. By category, home had the strongest gains, a comparable sales growth increase in the low-20 percentage range; followed by hardlines, also in the low-20 percentage range; then electronics, in the mid-20s range; beauty and essentials grew in the low teens, and apparel was up high-single digits. Meanwhile, the average ticket order increased 12.3 percent during the holidays. Shares of Target, which closed down 1.15 percent Wednesday to $196.82 a piece, are up more than 57 percent year-over-year.

“Target’s holiday 2020 sales results, encompassing November and December, continue to position it as one of the true pacesetters in U.S. retail and reinforce the importance of physical stores in a multichannel model, especially in light of the challenged delivery environment,” said Charlie O’Shea, Moody’s vice president. “While the retail dynamic created by the pandemic muddies the relevance of year-over-year comparisons, Target’s numbers by any yardstick obliterate the bull’s-eye as it continues to expand market share.” Seth Sigman, an analyst at Credit Suisse, pointed out, however, that the company did not comment on gross margins, which “we believe it could point to flat [gross margins] to up slightly.” No guidance was given on the remainder of the quarter or January sales to date, although Cornell said, “We’ve seen continued strong sales trends in the new year and as we turn to our 2021 plans, our team is focused on continuing to build on the guest engagement and significant market share we gained throughout 2020.”

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