Target's Fourth-quarter Online Sales Growth Outpaces Wal-Mart's

Target Corp's fourth-quarter online sales rose 36%, double the 18% global online growth that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has reported. Target's online growth, disclosed on a conference call with reporters Wednesday, contributed 0.9 percentage point to its better-than-expected U.S. comparable sales gain of 3.8%. Wal-Mart said online sales contributed 0.3 percentage point to Walmart U.S. sales. While Target's holiday free shipping without any spending threshold did come with a cost, that was offset by online sales going up "meaningfully," Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan said on the call. Mulligan said those shoppers also "are much more profitable" because they spend more in stores too. For the year, Target said U.S. online sales rose more than 30%. Target this week cut its free standard shipping threshold by half to $25 in a bid to compete more aggressively against Wal-Mart and Inc. See: Target deploys free-shipping threshold as weapon in the online share battle

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