Target hurt by consumer cuts

From the Associated Press

Target Corp. said fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell 8.1% as customers cut back on clothing and home goods.

Net income declined to $1.03 billion, or $1.23 a share, in the quarter ended Feb. 2, from $1.12 billion, or $1.29, a year earlier, the Minneapolis-based retailer said. That beat the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 0.8% to $19.9 billion.

Like other retailers, Target suffered as customers trimmed spending to cope with higher food, fuel and housing costs. Shoppers bought groceries and pharmacy items and cut back on jewelry, housewares and other discretionary goods.

Target also lost holiday toy and electronic sales to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which carries a larger proportion of basics.

Target's quarterly sales growth at stores open at least a year, at 0.2%, trailed Wal-Mart's for the first time in 3 1/2 years.

Shares of Target advanced $1.64, or 3.1%, to $54.89.

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