Another retailer, Target, reports booming holiday sales

FILE - This Wednesday, May 3, 2017, file photo shows a Target store in Omaha, Neb. Target plans to boost its same-day delivery capability by paying $550 million for Shipt, its latest move to try to catch up with Amazon. The deal is expected to close before the end of 2017. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target has joined other retailers in putting up booming sales numbers as shoppers returned in force during the critical holiday season.

Sales at stores open at least a year jumped 3.4 percent in November and December, with a lot of traffic both on the company’s website, and in stores.

The company, also citing recently-enacted federal tax changes, raised quarterly and 2017 profit expectations, sending shares up 4 percent in premarket trading Tuesday.

Kohl’s Macy’s and J.C. Penney have all reported strong holiday sales in the past week, providing strong evidence that traditional retailers have learned how to win customers over online, while leveraging the advantages of its physical locations.

At the heart of the retail revival, of course, is the consumer, who is spending more freely than in past years following the recession.

On Monday, the Federal Reserve reported that consumer borrowing jumped 8.8 percent in November, the largest spike in more than two years, with confidence in the U.S. economy growing steadily. The category of debt made up mostly of credit cards jumped $11.2 billion, the most in a year, to $1.02 trillion. That is the highest level on record, without adjusting for inflation.

Target Corp., based in Minneapolis, now foresees fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.30 to $1.40 per share. Its prior guidance was $1.05 to $1.25 per share. For 2017, Target now expects earnings of $4.64 to $4.74 per share. Previously it predicted earnings of $4.40 to $4.60 per share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect fourth-quarter per-share earnings of $1.22, and $4.56 for the full year.

Target expects 2018 adjusted earnings between $5.15 and $5.45 per share.

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