Target Stores, the nation's third-largest discount chain, yesterday announced details of its plans to steamroll into the Mid-Atlantic region in 1996 with 24 stores, creating an estimated 3,600 jobs and nearly $5 million annually in direct economic impact.
The Minneapolis-based retailer will open 13 stores in Maryland and 11 stores in Virginia next year. The first nine Maryland stores will open in July in Germantown, Bowie, Bel Air, Glen Burnie, Largo, Laurel, Waldorf, Westminster and White Marsh.
Target will launch its second phase in Maryland in October, opening stores in Aberdeen, Columbia, Ellicott City and Owings Mills.
Analysts, citing Target's saturation strategy, say there could be more to come.
"It's a pretty strong entry into the market, but certainly I would expect in the future they'll have a fill-in strategy," said John P. Hughes, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Inc. in Minneapolis. "Over a three-year period, they may double that number , or more than double that."
Sources have said that Target may open as many as 40 stores in the area by the end of the decade.
Each store will hire about 150 full- and part-time workers from the area and inject more than $200,000 annually into the local economy by purchasing services and supplies from local businesses, the company said.
Target stressed yesterday that its arrival means more than sheer numbers. The company touted its environmental sensitivity, volunteerism among employees and civic involvement: Target's parent company, Dayton Hudson Corp., contributes 5 percent of its taxable income to communities in which it does business.
Then, of course, there are the customers, who analysts say may benefit the most by Target's entrance into the market. The retailer is widely considered competitively priced compared with other giant discounters such as Wal-Mart and Kmart and even many moderately-priced department stores, including Sears. But Target also is recognized as an upscale discounter, whose merchandise runs the gamut from toys and apparel to bedding and household goods.
"It gives consumers another choice," Mr. Hughes said, "so it puts pressure on prices, so consumers definitely will be the beneficiaries of that. What it does for retailers is another story."
Wal-Mart, which runs 24 stores in Maryland and 51 in Virginia, said when Target's initial plans were disclosed last summer that the competition would be "extremely healthy for the retail environment in the Baltimore market." Yesterday, Target, was magnanimous as well.
"We welcome the competition," said company spokeswoman Susan M. Eich.
Analysts agree that customers, whom Target calls "guests," will find fashion-oriented merchandise, name-brand goods, strong customer service, uncluttered aisles and bright lighting in stores that average about 120,000 square feet, about the size of two football fields.
Target declined to lay out further expansion plans for the region, but Ms. Eich said, "A lot of growth, as we move forward, is going to be in the East Coast market."
In addition to 24 stores in the Baltimore-Washington region, Target is planning to open four stores next year in Buffalo, N.Y. Already, Target, which employs about 123,000 workers, operates stores in 33 states and plans to open 70 to 80 stores in 1996.
March 1996 Virginia: Potomac Mills, Fredericksburg
July 1996 Maryland: Germantown, Bowie, Bel Air, Glen Burnie, Largo, Laurel, Waldorf, Westminster, White Marsh
Virginia: Chesapeake, Sterling, Colonial Heights, Chester, Hampton
October 1996 Maryland: Aberdeen, Columbia, Ellicott City, Owings Mills
Virginia: Richmond north, Richmond central, Richmond northwest, Norfolk