NEW YORK – Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are the top bills on the “mass fashion” marquee, playing out their parts in a soap opera-like rivalry centered on “urban and contemporary” fashion looks.

From a financial perspective, Target is outpacing Wal-Mart in same-store sales, which suggests a more positive response to the smaller rival’s merchandise offerings. In May, same-store sales at Target rose 5.7 percent rise, with Wal-Mart posting a 2.3 percent gain – a trend consistent with the last 32 months.

On the fashion front, much of the “bulls-eye” success can be attributed to the way in which Target has cornered the urban retail market, “through groundbreaking designer partnerships, smartly executed house brands and limited-edition ‘luxury’ offerings,” such as the most recent Tara Jarmon clothing promotion. In its devotion to constant improvement, Target has revamped its beauty section, peppering it with well-advertised, exclusive products.

But despite Target’s mass fashion appeal, Wal-Mart is making fashion strides too. It also retains a regal position as the world’s largest retailer. Last year, Wal-Mart’s sales were $312.4 billion, and the company plans to continue its expansion at a rate of 8 percent per year. During its shareholder meeting last month, H. Lee Scott Jr., president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart said, “Everything is changing…and we have to stay in front to succeed.” The message was incorporated in the newly unveiled slogan, “Wal-Mart Out in Front.”

For a detailed look at the headlines discussed above, see the following archived articles:

May 30, 2006
Target’s Apparel Success Intensifies Challenges From Rivals
There have been recent signs that pressure on Target is rising.

May 23, 2006
New George In Town
Wal-Mart’s classic clothing brand will offer a capsule collection by Mark Eisen, to bow for fall.

May 17, 2006
Wal-Mart Net Gains 6.3%
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday said first-quarter earnings beat Wall Street estimates by 2 cents.

May 16, 2006
Target Net Up, Misses Forecast
Although Target Corp. delivered robust first-quarter sales and profits, earnings per share missed the mark.

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