MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Discount retailer Target Corp. said Thursday that a key sales figure rose 4.4 percent in May as shoppers spent more on food and its cheap-chic fashions.

The results beat analysts’ expectations tracked by Thomson Reuters for a 3.5 percent increase in stores open at least a year, a key measure of a retailer’s health. They were also at the high end of Target’s own expectations for the four weeks ended May 26.

The strong monthly results follow the discount chain’s first-quarter earnings report earlier this month that was better than Wall Street expected Target, which mixes stylish clothes and trendy decor under the same roof as toothpaste and cereal, recently has had success drawing customers into stores with two growth initiatives.

The retailer has been offering a larger selection of foods. Target also has benefited from a program it started in 2010 that gives shoppers a 5 percent discount when they pay with Target-branded credit and debit cards.

Those seem to be paying off: Food, clothing and health supplies were the strongest sellers during the month, while home goods decreased slightly.

Total sales for the four weeks ended May 26 rose 5 percent to $5.04 billion.

Year-to-date, total sales rose 6 percent to $21.58 billion and revenue in stores open at least one year rose 5.1 percent.

That metric is an important gauge of a retailer’s overall performance because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Minneapolis-based Target expects the June figure to rise in the low- to mid-single digits.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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