Target’s (TGT) web site will start matching the prices of the retailer’s main online rivals on Thursday, in a move that shows how intense the retailer expects the holiday season battle with Walmart, (WMT) Amazon.com (AMZN) and others will be.
Until now, Target’s price matching has been limited to its physical stores, where customers could get a price adjustment within a week if they saw a better price on Amazon, or at the online stores of Walmart, Best Buy (BBY), Toys R Us and Babies R Us. But as of October 1, shoppers on target.com can also get a price match, with the window now 14 days. The idea is to offer customers the same policy regardless of how they shop from Target, whether online or in-store, and reflect how people shop today.
And in a nod to how broad Target’s competition is, the discount retailer has added the web sites of another 24 stores to its price-matching list, ranging from Macy’s (M) to CVS (CVS) to Walmart’s sister chain, Sam’s Club.
The new policy brings Target into line with arch-rival, Walmart, which started online price matching last year after testing it the year before. It also ends an absurd situation where Walmart.com would match Target.com prices, but not vice versa.
While the Target policy is permanent, it comes on the eve of a holiday season that promises to be even more bruising than last year’s: Amazon and Walmart got locked into a fierce price war in July, with Black Friday-style sales events. Analysts expect a solid holiday season – consulting firm AlixPartners is predicting holiday retail sales will rise 2.8% to 3.4% — but say consumers remain particularly price sensitive.