Target to match some rivals' online prices year-round

Tue Jan 8, 2013 12:55pm EST
 

(Reuters) - Target Corp said on Tuesday it will match on a year-round basis the prices found on the websites of key rivals Amazon.com Inc, Best Buy Co Inc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Toys R Us, its latest tactic to hold onto shoppers focused on price.

The move extends an online price-matching program that Target introduced over the holiday season and which was supposed to last only from November 1 to December 16. It also comes after Target last week reported flat sales growth in December at stores open at least a year.

"I think this is largely symbolic, it's akin to removing the Kindle from their stores," said Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer, referring to Target's decision to stop selling Amazon's tablet devices last year.

In November, Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said Target was not seeing a lot of price-match activity in its stores.

"It's not likely to have a huge impact on financials or customer behavior," said Nemer, who noted that customers are not likely to go to Target's guest services desk for a refund for just a small difference in price.

Also, much of what Target sells, such as apparel and accessories, is exclusive to the store, so there would be no comparable prices from competitors.

But Target will now also match prices year-round from its own website in its stores.

Nemer called that "a really important step," saying it removes confusion for customers who sometimes see different prices for products such as televisions in stores and online.

While shopping online has grown rapidly in recent years, it still represents a small fraction of overall shopping in the United States. Target's policy of matching online prices differs from policies at several chains, which match only printed advertised prices for items sold at stores.   Continued...

 
An employee at the new CityTarget store sits in a store window overlooking downtown Chicago, as they prepare for the opening, July 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young