Network based systems

Target CEO addresses omicron, wages and buyer habits

NEW YORK (AP) – Target is heading into the home stretch of the holiday season with a lot of momentum.

CEO Brian Cornell reports that holiday sales have continued to remain strong even amid concerns about the new omicron variant. Like its big box rivals, Target has been able to tackle industry challenges such as labor shortages, inflation, and supply chain grunts as the discounter keeps its shelves. full and armed with a full seasonal staff of 100,000.

Under Cornell’s leadership, Target had ramped up its online services such as curbside pickup and same-day services while beautifying its stores long before the pandemic. The company raised its minimum wage to $ 15 an hour in 2020, a commitment it made in 2017 and well ahead of many of the grocery store’s competitors.

Still, Cornell predicts that supply chain problems will persist for several years, and he’s watching to see how inflation will affect buying habits at Target.

The Associated Press recently interviewed Cornell, 62, on a wide variety of topics ranging from omicron to inflation and wages, as well as Target’s decision to no longer open its stores on Thanksgiving Day. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Q. How worried are you about omicron?

A. We will continue to make sure we work with the experts. We’ve put together a dedicated team, a coronavirus task force that we’ve been building since January 2020. And they’re going to continue to walk us through the steps we need to take to make sure we’re focused on. the safety of our team and the safety of our guests.

Q. Have you noticed any changes in purchasing behavior as a result of omicron?

A. I see customers shopping in our stores, shopping in all of our categories. So I didn’t see any change in buying habits that we expected. But as you have seen us throughout the pandemic, we know that we have to adapt to the needs of customers so that if they suddenly decide to abandon stores or return to services on the same day, we are ready for them. .

Q. What habits will remain after the pandemic is over?

A. I expect stores to continue to be very important in the future. And obviously, Americans have learned to use their smartphones and tablets to shop online. And I think we’re seeing all cohorts embrace both in-store shopping and same-day use of our services, and I think same-day services are going to be persistent for years to come.

Q. What do you think motivates the unhappiness of retail employees?

A. I really can’t speak to what’s going on in other industries and other businesses. But I know our teams want the chance to have a rewarding career in a place they want to work and it shows in our engagement and retention numbers every week.

Q. How do you see the salaries?

A. We have provided an additional $ 2 to our teams on weekends (statutory holidays). And while $ 15 is the bar we’ve set city-by-city, city-by-city, we’re weighing what our salary should be to make sure we’re competitive, attracting and retaining talent.

Q. Do you think Target will lose workers during the federal vaccine term?

A. It’s really difficult to say at this stage. And again, we want to make sure that we’ve given our team members the opportunity to have the options that are prescribed. So whether it’s vaccination or testing, we want to make sure we give them those options and hopefully they will continue to find Target a great place to work.

Q. What percentage of Target workers are vaccinated?

A. We are collecting this information. I don’t have it yet, but we’ll certainly be able, at the start of the first part of the year, to figure out exactly what percentage has been vaccinated and which team members will need to be tested weekly.

Q. Has inflation changed buying habits at Target?

A. I think it is still too early. We’re going to learn a lot more about how consumers react to inflationary prices over the next six months. And do they choose an alternative brand? Do they decide to buy one of our own brands? So, we will be watching this very carefully.

Q. When do you think the supply chain problems will ease?

A. I think it’s going to be something that’s going to unfold over a number of years as we make the investments and really take our supply chain capabilities across the United States to a higher level. other level. We have the inventory in the system in place to meet their needs. But it’s the supply chain pressures that won’t go away on January 1. It really is due to incredibly high demand and a very healthy American consumer.

Q. Target has announced that it will be closing its stores permanently on Thanksgiving Day. Why haven’t other big retailers followed your lead?

A. I’m not sure what they’re going to do, but we took a step back and said, ‘What’s the right thing for our team? What’s the right thing for our guests? ‘ And it was really clear to me how important it was to allow our team members to enjoy Thanksgiving with their friends and family.

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Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

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