Target has been struggling to find the right assortment of groceries to bring shoppers back in more often. The Minneapolis-based discounter said the costs associated with bolstering its online services and price competition for shoppers conditioned to look for deals hurt fourth-quarter margins. While we were pleased with Black Friday sales, December digital sales growth of more than 40 percent and continued strength in our signature categories, these results were offset by early season sales softness and disappointing traffic and sales trends in our stores, CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. Target had stepped up its emphasis on value, increased its holiday marketing and showcased more exclusive merchandise like the childrens clothing brand Cat & Jack. It also added 1,800 new or exclusive toys. That didnt lure enough shoppers to the stores, and that underscores the challenges for the industry. Moodys lead retail analyst Charlie OShea said Target and other stores are moving to merge their online businesses with their physical stores, but it will be years before they can do it efficiently. We are in a secular shift, he said. And nobody has built a representative second channel. A string of retailers including Kohls and Macys have lowered their outlooks after weak holiday sales as shoppers increasingly buy on their mobile devices. Toys R Us also cited the heavy promotional environment as the toy chain said revenue at stores open at least a year fell 3.4 percent for the nine weeks that ended Dec.
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