MINNEAPOLIS — With one less weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell said every day will count even more than ever this holiday with no expected sales lull in the middle of the season as is often the case in other years.
That’s one reason why the Minneapolis-based retailer is investing an additional $50 million to increase employee hours and training during the holiday shopping season this year. It will beef up staffing during peak hours on the weekends to assist customers and will double the number of employees working on fulfilling online orders in stores.
“This will be our single biggest investment in holiday payroll ever,” Cornell said recently at the company’s annual holiday preview in New York, though he did not specify how much of an increase this was over last year.
Target had previously disclosed plans to boost holiday hiring this year to more than 130,000 seasonal workers, about 5,500 more than last year. At the same time, Target has been steadily increasing the minimum wage for its hourly workers, lifting it a dollar to $13 per hour in June and has committed to raising it to $15 per hour by the end of next year.
While other retailers are experimenting with bringing robots onto the sales floor, Cornell said customers won’t see that in Target stores anytime soon. “The human touch still really matters,” he said.
In other years when there’s an extra weekend during the holiday shopping season, there’s usually a pause between the surge over Black Friday and then the final rush to Christmas. But without that extra weekend this year, Cornell said he expects there to be a more steady pace of sales this holiday season.
“I think we’re going to see a very consistent rhythm and drumbeat,” he said. “You’re going to see bigger and stronger days through the holiday season.”
Target’s annual holiday promotion of free shipping on any size order, waiving its typical $35 minimum, goes through Dec. 21. The retailer said many of the orders will arrive in one day. Last year, it offered free two-day shipping during the holidays for the first time.
Target will offer 10,000 new or exclusive toys this holiday season, more than double the amount compared to last year. Target has been doubling down on its toy business in the last couple years to try to pickup some of the market share from the bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us.
Last year was Target’s best year of sales growth in a decade, as Target’s store remodels, new private-label brands, and enhanced online offerings paid off. The company has also benefited from the bankruptcies and store closing of other retailers.
Cornell said the momentum has continued into 2019 and he expects it to continue during the holidays.
“We’re in a better position going into 2019 than we’ve ever been before,” he said. “We’re prepared for an exceptional holiday season.”