Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recession Specials

My family and friends will tell you that I love Target. A lot. I can spend hours in that store (just ask my brother-- I've dragged him to Target for a marathon shopping session on several occasions). Moreover, as someone who has been furnishing a new apartment in the middle of a recession, I really appreciate the small items for the house that I've found at Target (including, for example, the silver bowl on my coffee table that I scored for $5 and the great-smelling J.R. Watkins all-natural hand soap in my bathroom that set me back $3).

According to this Time Magazine article, Target is being outdone by Wal-Mart as the economy continues to tank. Why? Well, for starters, Target apparently devotes some 40% of its shelf space to home and apparel items (so that's why I love shopping there so much), while Wal-Mart sets aside 45% of its shelf space for grocery, health and beauty items ("consumerables"). When money is tight, consumers are more likely to fork over cash for grocery and health items than for home goods and apparel. And Wal-Mart's prices on consumerables are better than those at Target (in all fairness, even I have to admit that I've noticed that Wal-Mart's prices on these items are better than those at my beloved Target).

For what it's worth, Target is not taking this lying down. The company is shifting its focus toward consumerables, and will soon begin offering a larger, more prominently featured selection of groceries and other non-home/apparel items in an effort to regain some ground in the discount retailer market. That sounds fine -- as long as Target doesn't drop the fun, affordable home and apparel offerings that keep the interior designers and wardrobe stylists in all of us coming back for more!

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