Target told investors on Tuesday that it will see a short-term drop in profitability as it clears out excess inventory by marking down undesired items, canceling orders, and taking other extreme measures.
To account for a surge of goods ending up severely discounted or on the clearance rack, the store cut its profit margin forecasts for the fiscal second quarter.
Tuesday’s closing price was $155.98, down 2.31 percent.
In a CNBC interview, CEO Brian Cornell stated “, “We thought it was sensible for us to be decisive, respond fast, get out onto this, address and optimize our stock in the second half – take those necessary actions to remove excess stock and establish ourselves up to continue to be visitor relevant with our array.”
Target may avoid further suffering by acting quickly, according to Cornell, and making space for products that shoppers want, such as beauty products, groceries, household staples, and seasonal categories like back-to-school supplies. He said that the company’s website and stores are getting a lot of traffic and a “really resilient consumer,” but one who isn’t interested in the Covid pandemic categories any longer.
“We would like to ensure we keep leaning towards those areas that are important today,” he explained.
Target expects its operating margin percentage for the second half to be about 2%. That’s down from the forecast it issued less than three weeks ago when it predicted its operating margin percentage would be at 5.3%, similar to the first quarter.
Target expects profit margins to be about 6% in the second half of the year, which is better than its overall average for the fall season in the years before the pandemic. According to the corporation, revenue growth will remain in the low to mid-single figures for the entire year, and the share of the market will be maintained or increased in 2022.
As inflation-strapped buyers avoid goods that were favored during the first 2 years of the pandemic, retailers from Walmart to Gap are facing a surplus of inventory. Customers desire party gowns and professional outfits instead of the company’s many fleece sweatshirts and activity wear, according to Gap. Since gas and grocery prices climb, some households are making fewer discretionary purchases, according to Walmart. A year earlier, inventory levels at Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters were up 45 percent and 46 percent, respectively, due to a combination of products not selling and supply chain delays clearing.
As stores return to normal in-stock levels, customers’ shopping habits have shifted dramatically. As a result, some retailers have an excess of sweatpants, throw pillows, and pajamas at the same time as customers are looking for swimsuits and bags. Plus, due to inflation, some buyers are cutting back on their spending or putting more money toward activities like dining out and traveling.
Cornell stated that Target chose to implement its new stock plan after hearing that other retailers were experiencing similar issues. He added that the corporation sought to get ahead of important sales seasons like back-to-school and the holidays, when stale products may overwhelm stores and drive people away.
As of April 30, the completion of the fiscal first quarter, Target had approximately $15.1 billion in inventories. That’s a 43% increase over the same time last year.
Target stunned Wall Street with a huge profits shortfall for the fiscal first quarter on May 18, blaming rising gasoline and freight costs, increased discounting, and a shift away from products like small kitchen appliances, televisions, and bicycles. Its shares dropped more than 25%, the worst day for the corporation on Wall Street in 35 years.
Walmart’s results also fell short of estimates. Compared to a year before, its stock levels were roughly 33%. Walmart’s US CEO, John Furner, stated at an investor conference on Friday that approximately 20% of the product is something the company wishes it didn’t have. A third of the inventory is extra inventory to assist the retailer in restocking important items. “It’ll take a few of quarters to get back to where we want to be,” he said.
Target’s disclosure on Tuesday caused that company’s stock to drop as well. Walmart’s stock finished the day at $123.37, down 1.2 percent.
Target is looking through its stock, Cornell said, opting in some cases to store things away for future sale at full price as well as in other situations to market or figure out ways to sell them immediately.
Target, for example, held a major discount over Memorial Day weekend to move away bulkier outside products like patio furniture from its backrooms, he added. It also received increased storage space near U.S. ports, allowing it to transport products – some of which are coming too late or too early.