Target cuts Dec same-store sales expectations

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NEW YORK, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Target Corp TGT.N warned on Monday that its December same-store sales were below expectations and said it now expects sales at stores open at least a year in the range of down 1 percent to up 1 percent, adjusted for a calendar shift.

While more consumers came to its stores at the end of the third week of the month, the increase was not enough to make up for weak sales following Thanksgiving that carried over into December, the discount retailer said.

Given the lower forecast, Target said December sales are likely to fall “well short of the meaningful improvement” it had earlier said was needed to achieve fourth-quarter earnings-per-share growth.

Earlier this month, Target reported disappointing November results. It also said sales were soft in the last week of November and if weak sales trends continued, its December same-store sales would fall short of its forecast.

The discount retailer had forecast December same-store sales would rise 3 to 5 percent on a calendar-adjusted basis.

Excluding the calendar adjustment, it forecast December same-store sales would fall in the low-single-digit range.

Target had said that for November and December, its same-store sales would be affected by a change in the monthly retail calendar this year compared with last year. An extra week on last year’s retail calendar has created monthly periods this year that are not exactly comparable to year-ago results. Due to the shift, Target said seven additional post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping days will fall in November this year compared with a year ago, but six fewer pre-Christmas days will fall in December.

That shift was expected to boost its November sales but hurt its December results.

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, editing by Richard Chang)

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