Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target, spoke about the company’s plans for the 2021 holiday season in an exclusive Dec. 15 interview with The Associated Press.
Cornell was optimistic after reports showed sales continuing to stay strong during the final stretch of the holiday season amid some worries about the new omicron variant.
Target, one of the country’s largest retail chains, has been confronted with worsening labor shortages, shoplifting, gang incidents, inflation, and supply chain problems, as have many other major American retailers during the pandemic.
In order to boost holiday sales, the company announced a new seasonal schedule with hours being extended ahead of Christmas Eve, with stores opening from 7 a.m. to midnight from Dec. 12 through Dec. 23.
Target employs a full seasonal staff of 100,000 workers for the holidays and has been focused on finding ways to maintain its labor force in the pandemic.
Cornell said that Target will “provide an extra $2 for our teams on (holiday) weekends. And while $15 is the mark we’ve set city by city, town by town, we evaluate what our wage should be to ensure that we are competitive, we’re attracting and retaining talent.”
AP asked Cornell on how Target is managing the controversial vaccine mandates, which had put a damper on workforce numbers across the country.
“We want to make sure that we’ve provided an opportunity for our team members to have the options that are being prescribed,” Cornell answered.
He added that employees had the option of “vaccination” or weekly “testing,” and that the company would “offer them those options and hopefully they continue to find Target a great place to work.”
One of Cornell’s major priorities is to keep store stocks and shelves full with items during the supply chain crisis.
Cornell claimed that Target has the inventory in place to meet their retail stores’ needs and that many of the shortages were due to increasing demand and healthy consumer spending.
The supply chain crisis would continue to “take place over a number of years,” Cornell predicted, adding that the company would invest to expand their “supply chain capabilities across the United States” to keep up with demand.
Cornell then said he was reviewing how rising inflation would affect customer shopping habits at Target and believed that “it’s still just too early.”
“We’re going to learn a lot more about how the consumer reacts to inflationary pricing over the next six months.”
“And do they choose an alternative brand? Do they decide to purchase one of our own brands? So, we’ll watch that very carefully.”
Cornell was also asked about how Target stores will manage the emerging Omicron variant.
He said that Target would “work with the experts,” and that the company’s coronavirus task force team, which they have had on staff since January 2020, would advise them “on the safety of our team and the safety of our guests.”
Cornell told AP that he had not seen any of the expected changes in shopping behavior due to Omicron and that the company was ready for any changes in their customers’ health needs.
Target will also be reviewing plans to adjust to its customers’ post-pandemic habits.
Cornell said he has observed shoppers making more use of their smartphones and tablets to shop online since the pandemic.
He said that under his stewardship, Target had already been improving its online services, such as curbside pickup and same-day services, well before the pandemic and would continue to make further adjustments.
However, he predicted that “same-day services are going to be sticky for years to come.”