Is Target Losing Its Cachet?

The president and C.E.O. of Target, Gregg Steinhafel, fielded question after question about his company's $150,000 donation to an extremist right-wing group at Target's annual shareholder meeting yesterday. Several of Target's biggest investors, including some large pension funds, protested outside the meeting. Women's Wear Daily reports that Steinhafel "sound[ed] embattled and annoyed" by the questioning. "I think we've sufficiently addressed that topic," Steinhafel replied to an investor who asked how Target could have "such an enormous blind spot" as to not research the extremist anti-gay group, Minnesota Forward. "We listened, we evolved, we have the right processes," continued Steinhafel. "Does anybody have a question related to our business that's not related to political giving? I'd love to hear a question related to something else." [WWD]
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has a long piece today that straight-up asks whether Target is "losing its cachet." While sales of basic, unsexy items are relatively strong, sales of the slightly pricier and more "stylish" home goods and fashion items that Target has always relied upon for fat profits and to set itself apart from Wal-Mart are sluggish. Overall, the corporation's same-store sales rose just 2% over last year during the first quarter. Analysts are concerned that Target, in aggressively expanding into razor-thin-margin grocery goods during the recession, may have attracted too many lower-income shoppers; Target, ahem, targets the slightly better-off folks who go in for some light bulbs and come out with a cute set of glassware or a nice beach towel. (The median household income of a Target shopper is still $60,000, which is higher than Wal-Mart's.) (Translation: oh noes, too many poor people are ruining Target!) And now that stores like Macy's and J.C. Penney have their own limited-edition designer collaborations, Target has competition at the higher end, too. It's strange (or not, considering this is the Journal) that this story doesn't mention two things: the controversial political donations, and Target's long (but recently well-publicized) battles with the unions that would like to organize its underpaid workforce. (Working at Target, as we know, can be hell.) For people who think themselves politically liberal, Wal-Mart has earned a reputation as a union-busting, Main-Street-killing, profiteering corporate hydra, while Target has been considered a kinder, gentler, designer-y-er retail safe space. Perhaps it's merely that calculus that's changing, and that un-earned reputation that's fading. [WSJ]


Is Target Losing Its Cachet? Juergen Teller shot none other than Helena Bonham Carter for Marc Jacobs ' fall campaign. Look at her, wearing that weird apple-shaped hat thing. She looks awesome. [Telegraph ]
Is Target Losing Its Cachet? Beyoncé , wearing Givenchy , is on the new cover of Dazed & Confused . [@susiebubble ]
Is Target Losing Its Cachet? Women's Wear Daily analyzes Anthony Weiner 's outfit, body-snarks his "turtle neck." We need a shower. [WWD ]
Is Target Losing Its Cachet? Nancy Pelosi looked bloody amazing in vintage Thierry Mugler at a state dinner. [HuffPo ]
Is Target Losing Its Cachet? Claudia Schiffer's other cover of U.K. Harper's Bazaar is also pretty cool. [DS ]
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