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CityTarget: Major Disappointment, but Is It An Epic Failure?

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Initial research indicates that the typical guest in this new urban format is younger and more affluent than we see on average across the chain. And as expected, these stores are attracting many new guests

And, like, duh!

If city governments and urban planning departments rolled over, found some space, loosened ever-tightening parking restrictions and permitted Target to place suburban-sized stores in urban areas, that's exactly what Target would have done.

That's just another verbal specimen of why bricks and mortar is such a depressing space.

The CityTarget in Westwood is hardly different, at least in the way it "feels" and, for the most part, "looks" compared to any run-of-the-mill suburban and/or mall Target. Knowing the physical characteristics of its Downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles locations, I do not expect anything meaningfully different there.

Of course the Target in a place such as Westwood draws a younger, more affluent demographic. I can guarantee that, by statistically significant margins, it also draws more people who get to the store by walking, bicycle or public transportation than the standard suburban shops. I bet the education level and median income of the Westwood CityTarget shopper far exceeds that of the typical shopper at the Niagara Falls, New York Target near where my parents live.

That's the type of thing Target has to tell us about on their conference call? The painfully obvious. The type of stuff you learn when you take your first college course in research methods or data analysis.

That's because CityTarget isn't a "concept" or, as the company called it on the aforementioned call, a new "format." The fact that Target executives would refer to CityTarget as something novel illustrates a mix of disingenuousness and proof of how bad things have become in bricks-and-mortar retail.

Figuratively speaking, CityTarget is a fraud, a major downer. It's a way to work around city planning rules and regulations.

Where Target had the opportunity to innovate, it decided to make barely noticeable tweaks to the plans for its store so it could tap the urban market. While that might work, it shows little foresight on Target's part, zero respect for the state of retail and no desire whatsoever to disrupt, transform or progress in any worthy way.

Target does nothing more than degrade the urban environment with CityTarget. They're bringing suburban accoutrements to the city. Kill me now.

Plop your above-average American down in the middle of the CityTarget I visited without a view of the entrances and exits and they would not be able to tell you if they were in Target Westwood/UCLA or Target Parma, Ohio.

There's no distinction. Want to know the difference? Fewer toys. Fewer kids clothes. Why? Because young children tend not to populate the UCLA campus area and Downtown LA, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago.