Let it grow: Shoppers spend big on 'Frozen', beauty products to boost Target sales

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Target has beauty products, back-to-school gear, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Frozen" to thank for a surprise profits boost that is helping the company rebound from a year of sagging sales.

The Minneapolis-based retailer reported $325 million in third-quarter profits – a jump that most on Wall Street didn't expect, and up 3.1 percent from one year ago.

So what are Target customers spending that money on?

Shoppers spent more on health and beauty products – which executive vice-president Kathee Tesija said in a conference call was the result of new brands and improved in-store fixtures – and in the home department during the back-to-school and back-to-college period.

There were also rises in the toy department, thanks to the runaway success of Disney's "Frozen" franchise and the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." In addition, there was a notable increase in spending during the Halloween period.

Although slightly fewer customers are going through Target's doors, those who are shopping at Target are splashing the cash. Fox Business attributes this increased spending to the low gas prices – cheaper gas means more disposable income for most people, which they can then spend at stores such as Target.

The sales numbers also signify a timely rebound, that comes almost a year after a major data breach dealt a blow to confidence in the company as millions of customers' credit cards were compromised. Analyst Brian Sozzi told CNN Money Wednesday's figures are a sign consumers are "regaining trust in the brand."

In-store sales rose by 1.2 percent compared to 2013 – it's online where the company is making the greatest strides, with a 30 percent rise in digital sales accounting for much of the profits boost.

This is expected to continue, Tesija said, thanks to Target's holiday season offer of free shipping on all online orders, which she says has been received "enthusiastically" by customers.

Crucial time of the year

The results bode well for Target ahead of the all-important holiday season, ABC News reports, and it is looking to take the fight to competitors like Wal-Mart by opening two hours earlier on Thanksgiving next week, ahead of the Black Friday sales frenzy.

It has already attempted to get a jump on the competition by releasing some of its Black Friday offers early.

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