Comps rise 3.1% as Target releases final monthly results

Target salvaged its fourth quarter with a 3.1% increase in January same store sales that followed disappointing results in December and November.

Target said sales for the five weeks ended February 2, increased 29.6% to nearly $6 billion due to the inclusion of an extra week in the recent reporting period.

"January comparable-store sales were in line with our expectations as guests responded to clearance prices on holiday inventory," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO. "Our guests continue to shop with discipline in the face of a slow economic recovery and new pressures, including recent payroll tax increases. As a result, we remain focused on providing unbeatable value combined with a superior guest experience in both our stores and digital channels."

The 3.1% showing in January, driven largely by an increase in transactions, enabled Target to produce a meager fourth quarter increase of 0.4% after reporting a worse than expected 1% decline in November and flat results for December.

For the year, Target’s same store sales increased 2.7% and its total sales for the 53 week period increased 5.1% to nearly $72 billion. The company ended the year with 1,778 stores but that number will rise dramatically in 2013 as Target prepares to enter Canada with 125 new stores, the first of which is due to open next month.

Target will no longer report monthly sales results.