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Facing huge inventory, Target trims prices, vendor orders

The speed at which Americans pivoted away from pandemic spending was laid bare in the most recent quarterly financial filings from a number of major retailers.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — Target is canceling orders from suppliers, particularly for home goods and clothing, and it's slashing prices to clear out amassed inventory ahead of the critical fall and holiday shopping seasons.

The actions come after a pronounced spending shift by Americans, from investments in their homes to money spent on travel, nights out for dinner and dressier clothes, a change that arrived much faster than major retailers had anticipated.

The speed at which Americans pivoted away from pandemic spending was laid bare in the most recent quarterly financial filings from a number of major retailers. Target reported last month its profit for the fiscal first quarter tumbled 52% compared with the same period last year. Sales of big TVs and appliances that Americans loaded up on during the pandemic have faded, leaving Target with a bloated inventory that it said must be marked down to sell.

Target declined to give a dollar amount of merchandise orders that are being canceled and depths of the discounts.

Other retailers including Gap, Macy's, Walmart and Kohl's have also reported rising inventories.

“Retail inventories are elevated," Michael Fiddelke, Target's chief financial officer, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday. ”And they certainly are for us, in some of the categories that we misforecast. We determined that acting aggressively was the right way to continue to fuel the business."

Target is working with suppliers to cover costs for their vendors whose orders are being cancelled. In some cases, some of the raw materials that were meant for some goods will instead be used for other products in higher demand, Fiddelke said. Many of the orders for products being canceled have a long production lead time of nine months, he said.

Target said the costs related to the moves will hurt the bottom line in the current quarter. Target now expects its second-quarter operating margin rate will be roughly 2%, down from around 5.3% it had anticipated last month. For the second half of the year, Target expects an operating margin rate in a range around 6%, a rate it said would exceed the company’s average fall season performance in the years leading up to the pandemic.

Last month, Target Corp. forecast its full-year operating income margin rate would be in the 6% range. Target didn't give a new full range prediction.

Target, however, continues to expect full-year revenue growth in the low- to mid-single digit range and expects to maintain or gain market share for the year.

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