Target’s Out-of-Stock SKUs Soar


Target’s online out-of-stock SKUs soared from 5% in 2020Q1 to 15% in 2022Q1 according to Earnest Research Retail Pricing data. Out-of-stock SKUs, a proxy for unavailable products, initially jumped in the beginning of the pandemic. Around 20% of Apparel & Accessories items listed on Target’s site were out-of-stock in 2021, compared to 14% in 2020. Beauty & Household Essentials and Electronics also experienced large increases in out-of-stock items in the first year of the pandemic. The rate of those categories’ gains slowed between 2021 and 2022.

However, out-of-stock levels among Food & Beverage and Home categories continued to rise in the first quarter of 2022 long after quarantine shutdowns were lifted. Now nearly one-in-five Home items are unavailable. Target claimed that weaker demand for discretionary merchandise, inflation, and supply chain challenges pressured earnings in its first quarter of 2022. Nevertheless, consumers may not have been able to get their hands on those discretionary clothing, home, and electronics items anyway.

Note: Fully out of stock products may not be included in % of SKUs Out of Stock analysis as they can be entirely removed from the website. The level of out-of-stock SKUs may therefore be higher than represented in the data.

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