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Target Tries to Find Its Place in the Big City

The chain and other big retailers are opening scaled-down outposts in urban areas
Target Tries to Find Its Place in the Big City
Chicago skyline: David Joyner/Getty Images

Target has 1,797 stores in the U.S. One thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine of them are standard issue: usually built from scratch, located mostly in the suburbs, and averaging 135,000 square feet in size. The other eight are something else altogether—smaller, more urban, less uniform. These CityTargets, as the company calls them, are an experiment in scaling down; they could one day be an important way for the $73 billion retailer to keep expanding domestically.

Urban markets are the last American frontier for big-box retailers such as Target. Cities are growing faster than suburbs and exurbs for the first time in decades, and they’re generally filled with younger, more free-spending residents, as well as college students and tourists. Smaller stores also make economic sense in the era of online shopping. “Everybody from Staples to Kohl’s is downsizing,” says Howard Davidowitz, who runs a retail consulting and investing firm in New York.