Target lowers 4Q profit and sales outlook

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is lowering its fourth-quarter profit and sales outlook after the discounter says it had sluggish holiday sales and traffic in its stores that offset a surging online business.

Target says revenue at stores opened at least a year for the November and December period were down 1.3 percent. The company now says that the key barometer for a retailer’s health will decline 1 percent to 1.5 percent in the quarter, compared to guidance of down 1 percent to up 1 percent.

Target says costs associated with shifting its efforts to online services and a highly promotional environment hurt fourth-quarter margins.

The lower expectations is a setback for Target, which is trying to reinvent itself to be more nimble in a changing landscape. It also underscores the challenges for the industry.