In the midst of Covid-19’s impact on the world, several senseless incidents of police brutality and social injustice marred the world. In May of 2020, Target’s hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul was rocked by the George Floyd murder. Target had to act fast.

Across our fair city (yes, I live in Minneapolis, too), anger raged. In a very small portion of Minneapolis, anger and rage turned to looting, rioting, and widespread property damage. Target stores did what so many other retailers big-and-small did: board up the doors and windows to protect their people and, to the degree they could, property from what might happen. Eventually, the tension died down. Target, though, was just getting going.

At the Fortune Global CEO Forum at the end of October, Target Chairman and CEO, Brian Cornell, spoke about how Target responded and where he has had his attention in 2020. In the early days of Covid-19, Americans rushed to Target stores physically. Not too long later, though, shelter-in-place (SIP) was instituted. Cornell says that people still came for all the things that were needed, and Target had to adjust to serve guests in new ways. He said his teams and operation had to be flexible with their merchants, vendors, and all of the supply chains.

Target knew it needed to be really agile and flexible. Target had double-downed on its stores a few years ago in an e-commerce world. Cornell said the company was and still is, happy with that investment. Store comps grew 11% in the pandemic, and the protocols they have instituted in the stores have built trust among customers for Target’s shopping environment, Cornell reports. He says that investment, too, has certainly paid off: in addition to the same-store sale comp growth, e-commerce grew 200% in 2020. As a startling (at least to me) fact, Cornell shared that stores represent 80% of where we get the dollars spent.

As for going forward, Cornell expects several trends to stay in 2021. First, at least for the Covid-era, safe shopping will be treasured. Target sees that people are consolidating where they shop, and that’s a good thing for Target. Second, e-commerce and digital are here to stay. People are wanting same-day ordering online with a pick-up at the store, and businesses will need to adjust or get left behind. Lastly, Cornell says that value will remain as critical. It’s good to know that in a Covid world, some things never change.


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