Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Business

Target unveils year-round price matching

NEW YORK — Target Corp. is pledging to match prices of select online rivals year-round, a move that underscores how physical and online retailing are being meshed together.

Matching online prices is rare but expected to become more common as shoppers move increasingly online. Target, the nation's second largest discounter behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said it will match prices that customers find on identical products at top online retailers, all the time. The online list includes Amazon.com as well as the websites of Walmart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Babies R Us.

Target's move follows a similar holiday price match that began Nov. 1 and ended Dec. 16. Target is also making permanent its holiday offer of matching prices of items found at its stores with those on its website. For the first time it will include products that are out of stock on Target.com.

The moves follow a disappointing holiday shopping season for the Minneapolis-based retailer, hurt by stiffer competition from online rivals and stores like Walmart that have hammered its low prices. It's also the latest step from brick-and-mortar stores to combat "showrooming" — a growing trend for customers to browse stores to check out products, and then go online to buy the same products for less.

Mark Schindele, Target senior vice president of merchandising operations, noted the discounter monitors prices of 30,000 items, and thousands more online, to make sure it's competitive. But Target says it had to do more to give shoppers more confidence.

"We believe that our prices are competitive year-round," Schindele said in an interview. "We also know that our guests shop in many ways."

Many major stores have offered price matching guarantees for local competitors' brick-and-mortar stores, but it wasn't until this past holiday season that the focus was on matching online prices. Analysts believe that the trend will increase as stores are realizing they need to wake up to the increasing shift among consumers to online, which accounted for about 10 percent of holiday sales this past season. Still, such policies can be difficult in practice, because online prices tend to be lower and fluctuate often.

Since last summer, Toys R Us has been matching online prices for all identical items or models of baby gear from selected national competitors. Like Target's policy, it excludes Amazon's third-party Marketplace items.

Walmart has trumpeted its low price message but stopped short of matching prices with online rivals. The Bentonville, Ark., retailer said it can monitor prices across the Web every 20 minutes. That has helped the discounter better react to the competition's price changes.

Joel Bines, managing director and co-head of the retail practice at AlixPartners, praised recent moves by retailers to have an online policy.

Bines and other analysts say the online price match policies are also tough to implement given the constant fluctuation of online prices, even in the same day. That was particularly evident around Thanksgiving week. From Nov. 19 to Nov. 30, Amazon.com doubled the average number of promoted products it changed prices on each day compared with the same period a year ago, according to Dynamite Data, which tracks online prices.

Still, having a price match policy in place is essential for cheap chic Target, analysts say. The discounter, known for selling trendy merchandise and staples under the same roof, has seen uneven sales growth since the economic downturn as it tries to convince frugal shoppers it has good prices. This past holiday season, Target chose to limit promotions to preserve profits. That resulted in muted sales in November and December. "

Comments
Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

WASHINGTON — With hundreds of thousands of emotional support animals taking to the skies on U.S. airlines, Congress may start pulling a tighter leash.Two new legislative options emerged this week to address a hairy issue for American Airlines, Southw...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

ST. PETERSBURG — The head of Duke Energy Florida is leaving his post to take a new role with the utility’s parent company June 1, the company announced on Wednesday.Harry Sideris, 47, was appointed this week to serve as vice president and chief distr...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Comcast challenges Murdoch with rival bid for U.K.-based Sky

LONDON — U.S. media giant Comcast on Wednesday offered $30.7 billion for Sky PLC, topping a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and setting up a bidding war for Britain’s biggest satellite TV company.Comcast said it would pay approximately $17...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

TRINITY — Pasco County will be getting its first Sprouts Farmers Market, the organic grocery chain announced Wednesday. The new store will open at the Village at Mitchell Ranch on State Road 54 and Little Road. Officials with the speciality st...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

TAMPA — Circle K is converting the gas station portion of eight of its Hillsborough locations to Circle K fuel. Previously, the fuel was provided by other brands, such as Shell. The new Circle K branding also brings with it the Canadian-owned conveni...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida has the strongest residential building codes among 18 coastal states, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Florida’s rating is 95, almost three times higher than lowest-ranked Texas. Other states wit...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Times staffRedlining’ — banks’ refusal to make mortgage loans in certain areas — still has a huge effect on housing values even though the practice was banned 50 years ago. According to Zillow, a Tampa Bay house in a once-redlined area is worth less ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

NOW OPEN: TEX-MEX CHAIN CHUY’SThe Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its first Tampa restaurant on Tuesday, giving away free Chuy’s for two for a year to the first 50 customers. I know, we missed it, it’s a bummer, but we can still visit...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

CLEARWATER — Elected officials have talked about relocating City Hall from the downtown bluff for a good 30 years. Now there’s a jolt of urgency to actually do it.Voters backed a referendum in November that essentially greenlighted the $55 million re...
Published: 04/25/18