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McClatchy-Tribune  08/19/2014 12:01 AM ET
Target extends hours for night owls [Star Tribune (Minneapolis) :: ]

Aug. 19--Night owls now have another shopping option if they run out of diapers or work a second shift.

This month, Target Corp. began inching back its closing time by an hour or two at about half of its U.S. stores. So now, roughly 300 stores are staying open until midnight on certain days, marking the retailer's latest hours ever outside of the holiday season, Erika Winkels, a Target spokeswoman, said Monday.

In other instances, Target stores are being kept open until 11 p.m. on certain days of the week. The extended hours are being rolled out to about 900 of Target's 1,700 U.S. stores.

"The data showed us that our guests were looking for some more options in terms of shopping later," Winkels said. "We saw there was an opportunity there."

The later shopping hours come at a time when the Minneapolis-based retailer is trying to drive more traffic back into its stores in order to help revive sluggish sales. It has also stepped up its promotions in order to draw customers back following last year's massive data breach.

A couple of weeks ago, Target cut its second-quarter profit outlook, noting that those discounts had cut into its margins. It also said it will have "essentially flat" comparable store sales in the United States. Target will report its full results for the quarter on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has kept many of its stores open around the clock for years. Three out of four of Wal-Mart's 4,200 U.S. stores are always open.

Brian Nick, a Wal-Mart spokesman, noted that local ordinances in some regions require stores to close by certain times.

"But we try to be open as often as possible," he said.

By extending its hours, Target may stem some of the late-night shoppers who head to Wal-Mart and other late-night operators such as CVS and Walgreens, said Jason Long, a retail consultant with Shift Marketing Group.

"Target could be losing some of that business," he said.

While late-night shopping may not be appealing to many people, it may entice some younger shoppers as well as people working later shifts, he added.

"Target needs to be throwing more ideas against the wall, so why not?" Long said. "Give it a shot and see if it helps out."

For its part, Target noted that it reviews store hours on a regular basis. In the spring, for example, Target shortened some hours and extended some at certain locations.

Last fall, Richfield-based Best Buy decided to keep its stores open an hour later until 8 p.m. on Sundays.

"Clearly there was interest from our customers to come in then," said Jeff Shelman, a Best Buy spokesman.

Nearly all Best Buy stores are open until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with some stores staying open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Its store in New York City's Union Square is open 24 hours.

Like many other retailers, Best Buy also temporarily extends store hours during the holiday season.

Kavita Kumar -- 612-673-4113

 

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