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No happy holidays for Target, with stores not selling as much as hoped

Slumping electronics and entertainment sales hit Target in the pocket this past Christmas.
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It wasn't a good holiday season for the Bullseye, with Target reporting lower than expected sales during the busiest shopping period of the year.

Slumping electronics and entertainment sales and continued struggles in the grocery department saw the Minneapolis retailer's comparable sales drop 1.3 percent for November/December compared to 2015, the company announced Wednesday.

It means Target was not able to cash in on a flush period for retailers, with the National Retail Federation reporting that overall holiday sales rose 4 percent to $658.3 billion.

CEO Brian Cornell said the company was "pleased" with the Black Friday weekend sales and "continued strength" in its signature categories – which include baby, toys, beauty and women's apparel.

But he added: "These results were offset by early season sales softness and disappointing traffic and sales trends in our stores."

Things would have been much worse were it not for the fact Target's website continues to flourish, with a 30 percent rise in digital sales helping offset the 1.7 percent decline in-store – no doubt aided by the company's offer of free delivery up till Christmas Eve.

The company said sales in its electronics and entertainment range declined in the high single digits while sales in food and essentials dropped in the low single digit range.

Target's grocery selection has been undergoing a transformation that doesn't seem to have quite taken, shifting away from more processed, boxed foods to fresher, more natural products.

One area the company outperformed expectations was in the toy department, which grew 3 percent more than the company average.

More information about its performance over the holidays will be revealed next month, when the company releases its fourth quarter results.

The Street notes that several major retailers, including Kohl's, Macy's and J.C. Penney have been reporting disappointing holiday sales, which the website says comes as a result of the growing shopping migration to online.

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