Target making Walmart-style price cuts on thousands of items

It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for most retailers in 2024. 

Plenty of niche or legacy stores that cater to smaller interest groups are facing hard times, weighing store closures, bankruptcy or both. 

Related: Walmart stumbles into money maker that wealthy customers love

Much of this is thanks to covid, which accelerated the already rapid decline of places like indoor shopping malls. After the pandemic, shoppers changed their behavior, preferring discount-style retailers (either online or at outlets and strip plazas) in place of those once-popular shopping hubs. 

And for good reason. Goods and staples, such as food, energy and apparel are more expensive than they were one year ago or even one month ago.

The Consumer Price Index shows that prices in April increased 0.3% from March. The CPI ticked up 3.4% on a 12-month basis, about in line with expectations but certainly showing no signs that inflation is coming down soon.

Here’s a look at how prices have changed from March to April:

Food: increase 0.3%Energy: increase 1.1%Gasoline: increase 2.8%Electricity: decrease 0.1%New vehicles: decrease 0.4%Used vehicles: decrease 1.4%Apparel: increase 1.2%Medical care commodities: increase 0.4%Shelter: increase 0.4%Transportation: increase 0.9%Medical care: increase 0.4

“The index for shelter rose in April, as did the index for gasoline. Combined, these two indexes contributed over 70% of the monthly increase in the index for all items,” the CPI reports. 

Fresh bananas and other produce for sale in the grocery section inside a Target store.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

Groceries are expensive 

One of the more expensive recurring items on your monthly budget statement is probably food. Whether you’re eating out at a restaurant (which is getting harder to do for many Americans) or simply buying the essentials at your local grocery store, prices are going up. 

Here are some of the foods that have gone up the most between January 2023 and January 2024:

Fresh fruit: up 1.4%Cereals and bakery goods: up 1.5%Poultry: up 1.7%Fats and oils: up 1.9%Processed fruits and veggies: up 2.5%Nonalcoholic drinks: up 3.4%Sugar and sweets: up 4.4%Beef and veal: up 7.7%

While food at home was largely unchanged from March to April, food away from home — whether that’s through takeout, dining out, or any other form or eating away from our own dinner tables — is getting pricier

McDonald’s menu prices, for example, have doubled since 2014, which is more than three times the national rate of inflation.

That inflation rate still remains high, at just over 3%, and that affects everything. 

Target moves to reduce pricing

So Target  (TGT)  said on Monday that it planned to cut the prices of thousands of items in stores and online to help ease the pinch customers may be feeling from persistently high prices. 

Many of these price cuts will come from the grocery and essentials aisles, including on the following items: 

Good & Gather Unsalted Butter (1 lb) now $3.79 (was $3.99)Good & Gather Organic Baby Spinach (5 oz) now $2.99 (was $3.29)Prime Hydration Sports Drinks (16.9 fl oz) now $1.99 (was $2.19)Jack’s Frozen Pepperoni Pizza (14.3 oz) now $3.99 (was $4.19)Thomas’ Plain Bagels (20 oz) at $3.79 (from $4.19) Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheddar Flavor Blasted Crackers (6.6 oz) at $2.79 (from $2.99) Good & Gather Sea Salt Roasted Nuts (9.5 oz) now $5.29 (was $6.89)  Clorox Scented Wipes (75 ct) now $4.99 (was $5.79)Huggies Baby Wipes (16 ct) now $0.99 (was $1.19) Aveeno SPF 50 Sunscreen (3 fl oz) now $13.19 (was $13.89) Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent (100 fl oz) now $12.99 (was $13.69) Purina One Chicken & Gravy Cat Food (13 oz) now $1.99 (was $2.39) 

Target says it has already reduced the price of some 1,500 items and plans to reduce the cost of about 5,000 products across the entire store. 

“We know consumers are feeling pressured to make the most of their budget, and Target is here to help them save more,” Rick Gomez, executive vice president and chief food, essentials and beauty officer at Target, said.

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Target emphasized that the price cuts were separate from its upcoming Memorial Day sales event, which will see other related products on sale in preparation for the upcoming holiday. 

Walmart  (WMT)  made a similar price-cut move in March, with Chief Executive Doug McMillon promising the retailer would get some food prices down to pre-inflation levels.

“In food, prices are lower than a year ago, in places like eggs, apples, and deli snacks, but higher in other places, like asparagus and blackberries,” McMillon said of the store’s cost-cutting efforts.

“Dry grocery and consumables categories, like paper goods and cleaning supplies, are up mid-single digits [percent] versus last year and high teens versus two years ago. Private-brand penetration is up in many of the countries where we operate, including the United States,” he continued.

The retailer has been touting the success of its rollback programs in recent weeks, claiming that even higher-income customers are now coming to Walmart in search of deals and savings. 

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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