Target has lost 14 percent of shoppers in recent years

St. Paul Business Journal 9/30/09- by Chris Newmarker Staff Writer

UBS downgraded its rating on Target’s stock to “neutral” from “buy. The UBS report on the downgrade was titled, “Is Target’s relevance waning?” Analysts said there were issues over Target’s “relevancy with mid-income shoppers.”

They said UBS’s own analysis had found that Minneapolis-based Target has lost 14 percent of shoppers in recent years, and that about a third of those who remain are spending less. “This isn’t what one might expect from a discount business in a recession,” the UBS analysts said.

They faulted Target’s marketing message amid the recession. They said its chief competitor, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, has been promising to save families dollars, while Target continues to focus on trendiness.

Sales at Target stores open more than a year are down 4.7 percent for the year. The company has posted positive same-store sales in just one of the past 14 months.