5 Big Changes Target Is Making This Fall and How They'll Affect You
Recent policy changes and new merchandise can impact how you shop at Target.
Shoppers who can walk into a Target store and buy only what's on their list show fierce willpower. For many of us, the big-box chain lures us in with its seasonal displays, super-cheap front-of-store items, and exclusive designer collaborations. While this so-called "Target effect" keeps shopping fun and exciting, it doesn't truly upend the retail experience. However, several big changes that Target is making this fall—from how you check out to how much you'll be spending—might do just that. Keep reading to learn about what you can now expect to find in Target stores, and how these changes will affect you.
Target is closing locations.
In a Sept. 26 press release, Target announced that it would be closing nine locations: one in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood, two in Seattle, three in the Portland area, and three around San Francisco.
"In this case, we cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance," the retailer explained in the release.
As Best Life previously reported, in a May earnings call with analysts, Target CFO Michael Fiddelke said he expected organized retail crime (ORC) to reduce the company's 2023 full-year profitability by more than $500 million compared to 2022.
Before deciding to close these stores, Target made investments in safety, including hiring outside security personnel and putting commonly stolen items in locked cases.
But they're also opening some new locations.
However, despite the spate of recent closures, Target is continuing to open new stores. Just this month, locations arrived in Teays Valley, West Virginia, Yonkers, New York, and the Union Square area of New York City. The Union Square location drew some scrutiny over why one New York City neighborhood seems to be favored over another. Best Life reached out to Target for comment on this, but has not yet heard back.
In fact, according to the company's corporate website, "There's a Target store within 10 miles of most doorsteps in America." In addition to the three noted above, they currently list 32 additional stores set to open in the near future. This includes three more in New York City—West Harlem and Chelsea in Manhattan, and a location in Queens.
Target is adding item limits at self-checkout.
Whether you love or hate self-checkout machines, you probably know by now that they're a contentious topic. Some shoppers laud their ease, while others loathe how temperamental they can be. Whichever side you're on, though, Target's new self-checkout item limits are likely going to affect your shopping.
As Best Life recently reported, it's been confirmed that Target stores in Maine and New Jersey have imposed a 10-item limit at self-checkout, made known to shoppers by new signs posted at the registers.
In a response to Coupons in the News, a Target spokesperson said, "At select locations, we are testing self-checkout lanes of 10 items or fewer in order to reduce wait times and better understand guest preferences."
However, shoppers are skeptical this will make things faster.
A self-checkout item limit seems similar to express registers at the grocery store: It helps shoppers with only a few things get out of the store quickly and makes the check-out process more efficient for everyone. But this can only play out at Target if cashiers are added.
"If limits are imposed at self-checkout, then during particularly busy times, a store may need to staff more registers to ensure customers are taken care of in a timely manner," Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with the shopping comparison site DealNews.com, previously told Best Life. Shoppers are skeptical.
"Target is now on my block list I think after limiting self checkout to 10 items and having like no cashiers making long lines" wrote X user @Ristance on the social media platform.
"It has made lines longer!! Need more checkers if you are doing 10 items or less at self check out!!!!!" wrote an anonymous commenter on an article about the limits at a Maryland store published on Rockville Nights.
Target is adding drive-up Starbucks to stores.
Grabbing a grande latte has long been a perk of shopping at Target, but the retailer's partnership with Starbucks is about to get even more convenient.
In an August press release, Target announced that, by the end of this month, "guests nationwide will be able to add their favorite Starbucks menu item to a Drive Up order and have it delivered to their car at stores offering the retailer's free Drive Up service."
This means that at the 1,700 Target locations that include a Starbucks, if you're simply doing a contactless pick-up order, you can have a Target team member bring you a coffee with your regular order.
This could also slow things down.
It stands to reason that some Target shoppers choose to enter the store rather than place a drive-up order so that they can also make their Starbucks run. However, as Marketwatch recently shared, Bank of America analysts say the new change is intended to increase digital traffic.
Similar to the self-checkout change, if team members are not added to complete these additional drive-up orders, it could slow things down further.
To that point, a Target employee who goes by @ScootsNB recently took to Reddit to bemoan what they call "double tappers," or shoppers who place a drive-up order but tap the alerts for "I'm on my way" and "I'm here" in rapid succession—so employees don't have time to get their orders ready.
"People are also discovering how to double tap the Starbucks Drive ups now too," they wrote. "It makes things more stressful for the Starbucks TMS ontop of everything else… Even bumping up the time from 3 minutes to 5-6 would be helpful for us."
Target is launching even more big-name collaborations.
Target was arguably one of the first big-box stores to introduce designer collaborations, with Isaac Mizrahi and Alexander McQueen stepping in as some of their first participants. Since then, they've expanded these partnerships to other departments. For example, Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV fame are behind Target's popular Hearth & Hand home decor line.
And this fall, you can expect to find a slew of high-profile names hitting Target's shelves.
The first collaboration to make recent headlines was a Thanksgiving decor collection from interior designer John Derian. Then, it was announced that philanthropic jewelry designer Kendra Scott would bring her coveted baubles to Target.
And perhaps most noteworthy is that actress-turned-wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow will soon be selling a line of her Goop products at Amazon and Target. As People reported, the good.clean.goop beauty line includes 14 products, all priced under $40 (well below a normal Goop item), ranging from face cleansers to body oils to immunity chews.
But you may not want to get your hopes up.
Whenever retail experts comment on popular items at stores like Target—a designer dupe that's trending on TikTok, for example—they're quick to point out that demand often outweighs availability. So, if you see something you'd like from one of these collaborations, it's always a good idea to grab it while you have the chance.
Target is focusing more on affordability.
If you've been on social media in the past month or so, there's a good chance you've come across an influencer hailing Target's new kitchenware line Figment. The store-exclusive brand is thought to be a dupe of Caraway Home's pastel-hued, ceramic pots and pans. The big difference, however, is that a 10.5-inch fry pan from Caraway starts at $95, while a similar item in the Figment line costs $24.
Another recent announcement Target made about cost saving comes in the toy department, as consumers start to plan for the holidays. In an Oct. 3 press release, the company shared that they'll be "offering thousands of affordable, trendy toys and games under $25 across its broad assortment." This includes "holiday gifts starting at just $7.99" from the Bullseye's Top Toys List, as well as collaborations with Disney and FAO Schwarz.
The move comes after a major dip in sales.
Though we can't confirm the correlation between Target's seemingly new push in affordability and decreasing sales, the timing is certainly interesting.
Per an Aug. 16 press release, Target revealed that its sales for the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, which ended on July 29, had dropped by 4.3 percent in-store and 10.5 percent online. According to the Associated Press, this was the first time in six years Target posted a quarterly sales drop.
As Best Life previously reported, Brian Cornell, chair and CEO of Target Corporation, cited inflation as part of the issue (along with retail theft and a controversial Pride Month collection), noting that customers are choosing to spend extra funds on travel and entertainment rather than material items.
Best Life has reached out to Target about these store changes and will update the article with their response.