Target is an American mass-market retail company headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Target was originally incorporated in 1902 as Goodfellow Dry Goods by George Dayton, later renamed Dayton Dry Goods Company. The first Target store was opened in 1962 as a discount Dayton's store. After quickly proving successful, Dayton Company turned its focus on Target and renamed itself to Target Corporation in 2000. Standard Target stores offer items including home goods, clothing, groceries, and electronics. Larger Targets, formerly known as SuperTargets, are expanded versions of the store that offer larger varieties of goods and services. These typically include pharmacies, photo studios, and expanded grocery options like a deli or bakery. In 2015, all SuperTarget, CityTarget, and TargetExpress locations were rebranded to just Target. However, Target continues to open stores of varying sizes depending on location. Target also operates its own forensics lab, which has assisted law enforcement with solving high-profile criminal cases.
Target stores only operate in the United States, although the company has been sourcing locations and other offices across the globe. As of 2023, there are 1,954 Target stores in the US, and it is the country's seventh largest retailer. An Australian retailer under the same name and with a very similar logo is unrelated to the American Target. Target attempted to expand to Canada in 2013, but all 133 stores in the country were closed by 2015.
Target was first incorporated in 1902 as Goodfellow Dry Goods by George Dayton. It was renamed to Dayton Dry Goods Company in 1903 and shortened to Dayton Company in 1911. The first Target store was opened on May 1, 1962, as a discount version of Dayton's department stores. In an effort to expand its department store operations, Dayton Company merged with J.L. Hudson Company in 1969 and the two became the Dayton-Hudson Corporation. The corporation continued to expand with the purchase of two additional retailers—Mervyn’s in 1978 and Marshall Field and Company in 1990. Target was one of Dayton-Hudson Corporation's more successful retailers and became its leading revenue producer in 1975. By 1979, Target's annual sales were reaching $1 billion.
Target's first Greatland store––a Target with more merchandise than a standard store––opened in 1990. The first SuperTarget was opened in 1995 in Omaha, Nebraska. It included a full-service grocery section, a photography studio, a pharmacy, and restaurants. In 2000, Dayton-Hudson Corporation began putting all its focus on Target by changing its name to Target Corporation. In 2004, the company sold Mervyn’s and Marshall Field and Company. The first CityTarget was opened in 2012. CityTargets were two-thirds smaller than standard Target stores and designed for urban customers. The CityTarget designation, along with TargetExpress, was revoked in 2015, and all such stores were rebranded as Target.
Target began outwardly supporting the LGBTQ community in 2012 following a backlash against the company in 2010 after it was revealed that Target had donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a political action group that supported Republican Tom Emmer. Emmer was an opposer of gay marriage. The incident led pop singer Lady Gaga to pull out of a deal with Target to sell a special deluxe edition of her upcoming album at the time. In May 2012, Target began selling a line of t-shirts for Pride Month at $12.99 each. All proceeds were donated to the Family Equality Council, capped at $120,000. In the same year, Target featured its first ad with a gay couple. In August 2015, Target began removing some of its gender-based signage from stores including from children's bedding and toy sections.
In April 2016, Target released an inclusivity statement welcoming transgender employees and customers to use the store restroom or fitting room that best matches their gender identity. The announcement sparked a nationwide boycott initiated by the conservative Christian activist group American Family Association. The group created a petition, which received nearly 750,000 signatures in its first week, eventually reaching 1.4 million. In August 2016, Target announced that all of its stores would have a single-user bathroom by 2017 to address concerns with the company's gender identity bathroom policy. Only 300 of Target's 1,800 stores did not already have a single-user bathroom. The expansion cost $20 million. Target reported a 7.2 percent decline in overall sales in its second quarter that year.
Following the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, Target dedicated $300 million to raise the base pay of all positions by $2 an hour. Three months later, Target raised its base pay to $15 an hour. In February 2021, the company announced it would reimburse employees for up to four hours of pay and a Lyft ride of up to $15 to get vaccinated against Covid-19. In February 2022, Target announced it would increase its base pay from $15 an hour to $24 an hour. The company also expanded health care benefits to an additional 20 percent of employees.
In May 2023, Target removed several Pride Month merchandise items after receiving public backlash and threats against employees. Some consumers took to social media to post videos of themselves damaging store Pride displays as a form of protest.