Dee Watson of Torrance walks to her car after shopping at the new Target store in Rolling Hills Estates on Sunday, October 25, 2020. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

Residents on the Peninsula no longer have the leave the hill for their Target runs.

Rolling Hills Estates welcomed the giant retailer to the city with a grand opening on Oct. 25, one of six new Southern California locations.

Located at 43 Peninsula Center, the Target is one of the new small-format, approximately 30,000 square feet, locations, which include two in Los Angeles, one in Santa Monica and another in San Juan Capistrano. Another new location on W. Sunset Blvd. is 150,000 square feet. The new Targets will add more than 600 employees.

Small-format stores offer men’s and women’s apparel and accessories, home decor, groceries, health and beauty items and tech accessories — but in a downsized format.

“Local guests have told us they love shopping at Target and we’re excited to serve the Rolling Hills community,” said a Target spokesperson in a statement on Monday. “This new small-format store caters to local guests for an easy, safe and convenient shopping experience with an assortment tailored to meet their needs.”

Guests also have the option to order online and pick up in store within a few hours using their free order pickup and drive-up services, according to the statement.

“We knew there was a compelling opportunity to offer an easy and safe shopping experience to additional guests who may not have convenient access to our current store locations in the Los Angeles area,” added the statement.

John Mulligan, Target’s chief operating officer, explained the company’s forward momentum in a second-quart earnings call with investors.

“After opening three new store locations in March, we took a pause in our new store projects as uncertainty from the pandemic emerged,” he said. “Since then, we have been ramping up our new store construction activity, and we are now on track to open up to 27 more stores this year.”

“You can get in and out of them more easily and they have a curated assortment of merchandise,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor, a NY-based retail consulting firm.

The “big story,” Phibbs said, is the growing disparity between big-box retailers and smaller stores.

“The big guys like Target, Walmart and Amazon will get bigger at the expense of the smaller guys,” he said. “The big ones are all flush with cash and have made substantial investments in people and processes, so when the lockdown happened they were ready.”

Mulligan said Target will likely add 35 to 40 small-format stores a year in the coming years. The six new Southern California stores held a soft opening Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s grand opening.

Many businesses have taken a heavy hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but big-box retailers like Walmart and Target were deemed essential businesses and have seen their earnings rise as shoppers flocked to their stores for toilet paper, sanitizer, food and other essentials.

Target generated $23 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2020, a 24.7% increase over the same period last year, and online sales grew by 195%, the company reported. Target posted operating income of $2.3 billion, a 78% year-over-year increase.

“The majority of our digital demand is driven by items that are already available in our stores, which positions us to efficiently rely on those locations to fulfill the demand,” CEO Brian Cornell said in the second-quarter earnings call. “We’re sharing second-quarter results that are, by virtually any measure, exceptional.”

Cornell said Target’s most rapid growth has been in store pickups for same-day online orders.

The company’s Drive Up and Shipt services, he said, offer “speed, reliability, convenience and value to our guests.”

“They are digital capabilities enhanced by human interaction, even though they’re contactless,” he said.

Target recently boosted its starting hourly wage to $15 an hour, and the company has also given recognition bonuses to its hourly frontline store and distribution center workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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