Target Takes Aim at Late-Night Shoppers

NEW YORK – Target Corp. will extend the operating hours of more than 50 percent of its U.S. stores in order to attract customers who do their shopping late, reported the Wall Street Journal. New hours go into effect this month and will continue through the holiday season, after which the company will evaluate the consumer response.

In general, Target's approximately 1,800 stores in the United States open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 9 p.m. Sunday. Under the new hours, stores will operate until 11 p.m. or midnight Monday through Saturday and to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. on Sundays. Hours will vary by store, and some will only extend hours on the weekends.

The change comes from consumer demand for longer hours and observations that a large number of customers were inside stores near closing time, according to Target spokesman Eric Hausman. "We did a lot more analysis into how big an opportunity this is, and there is a really big opportunity here," he said.

It remains to be seen whether the late-evening shopper market will be large enough to make a profit. The U.S. Department of Labor's American Time Use Survey shows that 37 percent of people over the age of 15 are asleep at 10 p.m., and 26 percent are watching television, while only 0.3 percent are shopping, according to the news report. Peak shopping time for consumer-goods purchases occurs at 1 p.m., when 3.8 percent of Americans report it as their primary activity.

Target's plan to change its operating hours began prior to the company's new Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell taking up the role as of Aug. 12. Target's primary traditional competitor, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., operates 70 percent of its U.S. stores around the clock.

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