Target to Go Pops Up as Holiday-Gift-Buying Timesaver

Retailer Opens Temporary Stores Stocking Most-Popular Items to Create Buzz in Urban Areas

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NEW YORK ( -- In an effort to build buzz in select urban markets this holiday season, Target plans to unveil three pop-up stores modeled after a fast-food joint.

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Target to Go stores will be open in New York, Washington and San Francisco from Dec. 11-13 and will stock 50 popular gift items that shoppers will order by number.

"The design is reflective of where guests are at now," said Shawn Gensch, VP-marketing at Target. "They're time starved, so this is a quick experience that gives them great products at great, wallet-friendly prices."

The shops are meant to attract attention in urban markets where Target doesn't have a significant presence, said Mr. Gensch, adding that the success of the stores will be measured based on traffic levels, sales and buzz.

"This is absolutely about reaching guests from a broader perspective," he said. "It drives awareness of Target. Every market has a Target within proximity. It's just not as local in these markets."

Certainly, Target will need all the help it can get this holiday season, as it faces a tough retail environment. Same-store sales slid 1.5% in November, the seventh-consecutive month of same-store sales declines for the discounter. Rival Walmart has stopped providing monthly same-store sales figures, but it has generally been outperforming Target and the rest of the retail pack since the recession took hold. In a statement, Target expressed confidence in its ability to perform well during the holidays, despite the current economic environment.

Each Target to Go shop will feature 50 gift items ranging from a 99-cent ornament to a $10 Play-Doh set to a $250 PSP Go handheld video game. Shoppers will walk up to a window to order the pre-wrapped gifts by number.

To support the stores, Target is planning an out-of-home marketing push in each market, as well as a Twitter program. Each store will have its own Twitter feed that will promote the location, as well as drop hints as to the whereabouts of some 1,400 oversized gift tags that are to be planted in the three cities. The gift tags can be redeemed at the Target to Go locations for between $10 and $500, and for each tag redeemed, Target will donate $100 to the Salvation Army.

Target to Go will be among the first programs to utilize Twitter in a major way. Mr. Gensch said Target has utilized social media for campaigns related to community giving, in the past. And while the retailer is hoping for increased word-of-mouth and traffic as a result of its social-media effort, Mr. Gensch said it's not clear what the impact might be.

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