Target CFO: We’re Not Trying to Compete With Amazon
The e-commerce giant hasn’t been kind lately to brick-and-mortar retailers: Target’s stock price is down nearly 22% so far this year, in large part because of increased competition with Amazon. When Amazon (AMZN) announced it would buy grocery seller Whole Foods in June, Target stock immediately fell 12%.
Target’s chief financial officer, however, insisted Monday that Wall Street’s fears are overblown.
“We are going to win when we’re the best Target, and not trying to be a competitor against Amazon or anyone else,” Target (TGT) CFO Cathy Smith said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. “That’s what keeps me up at night—just trying to make sure we’re executing, not trying to compete with someone like Amazon.”
Instead, Target is focusing on catering to consumers who still want to shop in stores, including by moving more of its locations to densely populated cities, Smith added. For example, Target recently opened a new store in lower Manhattan.
Smith’s comments echo those of Target CEO Brian Cornell, who recently told Fortune that Amazon’s Whole Foods deal was actually a good sign for his physical retail chain: “It validated the fact that stores still matter,” he said in July.
Still, Smith acknowledged that Amazon—which she called “a terrific competitor—is forcing a shift in the retail industry. “Retail is in a tough place right now,” she said, pointing to the 19 retailers that have declared bankruptcy this year alone. More than 6,000 stores have been shuttered, a number she expects to grow before 2017 is out.
When Amazon makes news such as with the Whole Foods deal, “I always joke it feels like you get a brush in the hall,” Smith said. “That’s what it feels like some days.” A question she frequently fields from investors: “Is Amazon going to take over the world?”
Her answer is no. Ultimately, Smith said, the competition will benefit shoppers in the form of better prices and service; after all, she added, 85% of the American population has shopped at Target. Amazon “causes disruption, and the consumer wins,” she said. “And it causes all of us to step up our game.”