The most interesting day of the month

A slew of retailers are scheduled to report second-quarter earnings in the coming weeks and among the more highly anticipated reports are results from Walmart and Target. 

Walmart is due up first on Aug. 16 followed by Target on Aug. 17.

Results from these two companies are always interesting because of what the data says about the health of the U.S. consumer, but what’s different this time around is the ongoing situation surrounding declining trends in customer traffic at Walmart and increasing customer counts at Target. Walmart has been reluctant to attribute its losses to competitive actions, choosing instead to cite economic conditions, gas prices and some self-inflicted actions that alienated shoppers. Likewise, Target has talked about the customers it has gained but stops short of singling out any particular competitors as the donor.

That situation isn’t likely to change with the release of second-quarter results, but if Walmart says its traffic has again declined along with comps, and Target says its traffic has increased along with comps, it seems logical to conclude their might be a connection between the two. Especially since Target is adding and expanding food and consumables at a breakneck pace, is the closest competitor to Walmart on price and there is considerable overlap in the demographics of the customers served.

While the release of Target’s second-quarter financial results should prove interesting, the following day is when the company is likely to put more meat on the bone regarding strategies that are expected to drive growth in the coming years. Financial analysts have been invited to a half day meeting in New York on Aug. 18 that presumably will be webcast although no details have yet been posted on the investor relations section of the company’s website.

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