Target sales decline to start the year, but it sees improvement

NEW YORK — Target on posted a decline in quarterly revenue as higher prices cut into shopper spending.

The Minneapolis retailer also delivered a muted profit outlook today, but it said it expects that it will get back to quarterly sales growth this quarter.

The company is looking for ways to reverse softening sales. On Monday, said it would cut prices on thousands of consumer basics over the next several months, from diapers to milk, in a bid to entice customers who are looking for deals.

And it’s also trying to make shopping at Target more convenient and enjoyable to better compete with Walmart and

Target announced a new paid membership program in April called Target Circle 360 which comes with unlimited free same-day delivery for orders over $35 and free two-day shipping for all orders. The annual $99 per year membership is getting a strong reception, the company says.

It’s updating existing locations, building more than 300 new stores over the next decade, and also broadening store-owned brand offerings for more cost conscious customer choices.

Target reported net income of $942 million, or $2.03 per share, which is 3 cents short of analysts projections, according to a survey by FactSet. Profit for the period ended May 4 was also below last year’s $950 million, or $2.05 per share.

Its revenue slipped 3.1% to $24.53 billion, slightly better than the $24.52 billion Wall Street expected.

Comparable sales — those from stores or digital channels operating at least 12 months — slipped 3.7%. That was a smaller decline from the 4.4% drop during the fourth quarter.

Sales declines were primarily in discretionary categories, and were partially offset by continued growth in beauty, the company said. But Target said clothing sales, while still down, improved.

For its second quarter, Target said it expects comparable sales to be anywhere from unchanged to a 2% gain. It expects to earn between $1.95 to $2.35 per share. Analysts expect $2.20 per share.

For the full year, Target continues to expect comparable sales to be no more than a 2% increase. Earnings per share should be in the range of $8.60 to $9.60. Analysts expect $9.49, according to FactSet.