Target’s biggest holiday deals are reserved for the weekends

Source: Target
Nov 14, 2017
Matthew Stern

Customers expect deals for the holidays, but some of the big deals Target is offering during the season won’t be available Monday through Friday.

Last week, Target announced its Weekend Deals series, which consists of a different deal on a seldom-discounted category each weekend for the duration of November and December. The first deal, on the weekend of November 11, offered 25 percent off kitchen appliances (the biggest sale in the category for the year) and 15 percent off products used for Thanksgiving preparation. The kitchen appliance promotion required that customers secure a coupon via Target’s app or via text message, whereas the other discount was applied automatically. All Weekend Deals are also available on

Target forecasts that twice as many people will shop during weekends than on weekdays. The company did not indicate how it determined the timing of the deals or what items to include. Some obvious seasonal categories will be discounted in coming weekends, such as holiday decorations and popular gifts.

Target experienced a weak 2016 holiday season, according to Fortune. Last year its 10 days of promotions around Black Friday still left the retailer with a 1.3 percent year-over-year comp sales decline in November and December.

Going weekends-only with deals is an interesting strategy given that the tendency has been for big retailers to start sales earlier in the holiday season and make them last longer. In fact Target might be facing some stiff competition this holiday season from competitive retailers who are starting their seasonal discounting early.

Walmart, for instance, announced that Black Friday sales will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, and will have doorbuster deals available at 6 p.m. that evening. Target will be open on Thanksgiving Day, but not until 6 p.m.

And analysts are expecting a lot of money to be made that weekend. A RetailMeNot study, quoted in Forbes, projects a 47 percent year-over-year increase in consumer spending on Black Friday weekend.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will weekend-only deals offer Target any advantages in driving sales during the holiday season? What are your thoughts on focusing holiday deals on specific product categories vs. store-wide promotions?

"This is sensible and will work if the bargains are genuine and the discounts generous."
"Looking at the general public these days, unless the deal is major, like many doorbusters are, they seem to prefer convenience over chaos."
"In today’s digital-first age of shopping when you want, how you want, and with whom you want, consumers have a distinct advantage of choice."

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13 Comments on "Target’s biggest holiday deals are reserved for the weekends"

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Paula Rosenblum

The advantages I see are to cost — structures rather than the top-line, which I think will be the same one way or another.

The goal here, I think, is to create more predictable demand patterns which in turn will give Target a better handle on workforce needs and the best replenishment days/times. I think this is an excellent idea.

Unsaid is what they will do in digital channels. I wish I knew (though I think I will find out tomorrow) what their plans are for online.

Dick Seesel

This is an interesting and aggressive approach by Target. It’s reminiscent of department stores that run one- or two-day sales on top of their weeklong events. While it may undermine Target’s everyday value positioning to add more sales events, it certainly leverages busy weekend traffic patterns — and is likely to draw even more traffic on Saturdays and Sundays when customers have a longer shopping list to complete.

Max Goldberg

Offering discounts on product categories forces consumers to focus. The problem for Target is keeping sale items in-stock. Traditionally items featured in Target’s Sunday circular are out-of-stock Sunday afternoon. If Target is going to be successful this holiday, management must insure that the products it advertises will be available.

Mark Ryski

Consumers today want to buy what they want, when they want and how they want — trying to control consumer shopping patterns is tricky and could backfire. Focusing promotions on product categories is fine, but driving even more traffic into stores during these already busy periods will only exacerbate the long lines, distracted sales associates and general shopping mayhem. This is not good for conversion rates especially in high-assist categories like kitchen appliances.

Neil Saunders

Limiting deals in this way creates a sense of urgency: buy it now or it may be gone for good. This is sensible and will work if the bargains are genuine and the discounts generous.

Not discounting everything at once also gives shoppers a reason to keep visiting Target over the holiday period. Given it struggled with footfall last year this seems like a reasonable way to build traffic.

The challenge is that with the rest of the retail sector going discount crazy, Target’s message and strategy may not cut through.

Brandon Rael

In today’s digital-first age of shopping when you want, how you want, and with who you want, consumers have a distinct advantage of choice. Target’s strategy may provide some dividends however, in all likelihood, this may not drive the incremental traffic they would expect, as the shopping dynamics have changed since the glory days of the department stores.

What the exclusively weekend promotion-driven strategies may lead to are incremental business opportunities with their existing loyal consumers, as well as attracting impulse shoppers who are more price sensitive.

Target would be wise to increase their workforce appropriately to meet the expected in-store consumer demands.

Lee Kent

I get what both Mark and Paula have said. There is an advantage to having a predictable pattern in order to staff, etc. however the weekend-only focus will push mega-traffic into the stores. Looking at the general public these days, unless the deal is major, like many doorbusters are, they seem to prefer convenience over chaos. I’ll be interested to see, but what may sound sensible on paper isn’t always so during the craziness of the holiday season. But that’s just my 2 cents.

Seth Nagle

As mentioned, Target has struggled with sales over the holiday period but this new strategy should help them correct that. One of the biggest issues with sales is getting the messaging out to the correct target audience. If Target can clearly communicate what’s on sale, when it’s on sale, keep the shelves stocked and most importantly keep the checkout lines running consumers will be routinely coming back each weekend.

The theory of storewide promotions (Black Friday/doorbusters) is great but an hour after the doors open the shelves are a mess, items are misplaced and no one is having fun. Focusing on specific categories would allow Target to manage the sale and create an enjoyable shopping experience.

Rich Kizer

This Target Weekend Deals program will drive traffic. I also think it will delay store visits for customers who will wait to see if they can “hit the jackpot” on those special items they plan to give. Adequate inventories of these deals is going to be mandatory … two or three weekends of disappointed customers can create disastrous consequences. And I do think that it will rip some traffic out of the stores as they create “anticipating customers”. All-in-all, I believe it stands a great chance of being quite successful as the attraction of the special items will help sell items throughout the store. I’ve never met a retailer who didn’t like a store full of customers in a feeding frenzy.

Kai Clarke

Any deals offered by Target before Black Friday will help their sales revenues. Focusing them on the weekend is interesting, but it won’t have a major impact on traffic (who says that they are waiting for the weekend to go shopping … my 14 year old?). We live in an omnichannel society where people shop all of the time, and waiting for a particular period will not work. Consumers simply find their products somewhere else.

Craig Sundstrom

So, basically, does a discounter (even) know how to discount? This would seem to be a litmus test for “Do we trust anything Target does anymore?”

I’m going to give them a pass on this, my only real concern being with the “downloadable coupon” part. Why make it so hard?

Georganne Bender

While I understand Target’s desire to control the times when its stores are busiest, I wonder what has happened to “give the customer what they want, when they want it, the way that they want it”? Let’s put the consumer’s hat on: Not everyone has weekends off. People who work in industries where weekends are required will miss out on all the great deals. You can’t untrain consumers. This sort of reminds me of when J.C. Penney decided to stop using coupons. We all know how that turned out….

Min-Jee Hwang

This is an interesting experiment. If twice as many shoppers choose the weekend, then it’s only natural to cater discounts to them. But, some here have pointed out, success will hinge on adequate inventory for the discounted items, appropriate staffing levels to avoid lines around the store, and having discounts on items that shoppers really want. If these three conditions are met, I think this discount cadence will work well for Target this holiday season.

"This is sensible and will work if the bargains are genuine and the discounts generous."
"Looking at the general public these days, unless the deal is major, like many doorbusters are, they seem to prefer convenience over chaos."
"In today’s digital-first age of shopping when you want, how you want, and with whom you want, consumers have a distinct advantage of choice."

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