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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The sign outside the Target store in Arvada

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By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) – Target Corp (NYSE:) reported a 17.2% rise in comparable sales for the holiday season on Wednesday as its online sales more than doubled, thanks to faster deliveries and higher demand for home goods, electronics and beauty products.

A large chunk of the sales growth came from same-day deliveries and store pick-up services, areas where the Minneapolis-based retailer has been investing heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deep-pocketed retailers such as Target and Walmart (NYSE:) Inc are using the disruption brought on by the health crisis as an opportunity to gain market share from smaller brick-and-mortar rivals struggling to survive the impact of the pandemic.

Target in December sold 150 million items through services that allow customers to collect their online purchases from stores, almost four times more than the same period a year earlier.

The sales surge came as retailers spread out their holiday season promotions to prevent crowding at stores, instead of focusing on a few specific days.

In a blog post, Target said on Wednesday it would keep its nearly 1,900 U.S. stores closed on Thanksgiving this year, repeating the measure it had taken in 2020.

“It is even less likely retailers will return to the big sales bonanza of Thanksgiving and Black Friday even when the pandemic is over,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

Target said sales trends in January has been strong. Analysts on average expect its fourth-quarter comparable sales, which includes January, to rise 12.7%.

However, analysts at Gordon Haskett said the retailer had likely missed the more optimistic expectations of 18%-19% growth, which is closer to what Target had seen in the third quarter.

Shares of the company, which have gained about 60% over the last 12 months, fell 1% in early trading.

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