Target to open smaller store on Hillsborough Street next year

A rendering of the “flexible-format” Target store set to open in October 2017 on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh.
A rendering of the “flexible-format” Target store set to open in October 2017 on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. COURTESY OF TARGET

Target is bringing a smaller version of its big-box store to Hillsborough Street.

The Minneapolis retailer on Thursday confirmed what has been rumored for months – the store will go on the site that’s currently home to The Alley. The bowling alley is closing at the end of the month.

The Target on Hillsborough will be 23,000 square feet – compared with most Target stores, which average about 130,000 square feet – and will sell fresh groceries, grab-and-go items, dorm and apartment essentials, clothing and electronics and include a CVS pharmacy, according to a Target press release.

The retailer plans to open a similar store in July in the Carolina Square development at Columbia and Franklin streets near the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Target is expanding into urban and college areas in an effort to combat declining sales in its traditional suburban markets. The chain saw sales at stores open for at least a year – a key metric for retailers – decline 1.1 percent during its second quarter. Target also lowered its expectations for comparable sales in the second half of the year. The retailer will issue its third quarter earnings report on Nov. 16. The move toward smaller stores is part of its strategy to reinvigorate sales.

CEO Brian Cornell told Bloomberg News in September that opening hundreds of smaller “flex-format” stores could be a major part of Target’s future growth. Target operates 30 flexible-format stores and has announced 21 such stores for 2017 and 2018.

Bringing the Target to the main street of N.C. State University continues redevelopment that has changed the appearance of Hillsborough Street and the businesses that line it.

Several new apartment buildings have been built in the past few years, including the 822-bed student housing complex Stanhope Center near Dixie Trail and the 135-room Aloft Raleigh Hotel near the N.C. State Belltower.

Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi