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Retail

Target’s Pulitzer Problem

It seemed a major coup for mass merchant Target to have signed high- end designer Lilly Pulitzer for an exclusive fashion and home line. But it wasn’t all triumph for “Tar-jay” when the 250-piece Lilly Pulitzer collection launched April 19. Within hours (and in some stores, minutes), crazed customers had plucked the shelves clean. Online traffic was so great that Target’s website was knocked offline. Items from the collection soon appeared on eBay at significantly marked up prices. The backlash from angry customers was so great that Target had to issue an apology.

It’s the kind of problem any retailer would love to have, to be sure. But the damage the Lilly Pulitzer fiasco caused to Target’s public image partly offsets the sales surge and might deter other high end designers from associating their brands with the store—especially considering that it’s a repeat of the meltdown Target experienced when it launched its Missoni collection in 2011.

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