Target Corp. said today it will stop selling Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle tablet computers and e-reading devices this spring. The retail chain will continue to sell iPod and Nook devices from Amazon competitors Apple Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc., respectively, says a Target spokeswoman.
Target began selling Kindles in 2010, but only in stores, not on the Target.com e-commerce site, the spokeswoman says. Kindle sales will cease at some point this spring. “Target continually evaluates its product assortment to deliver the best quality and prices for our guests,” the spokeswoman says, declining to be more specific. “We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of e-readers and supporting accessories.”
During the 2011 holiday shopping season, Target bragged about the vigorous sales of Kindles on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. "This was a great Black Friday for Target and for Kindle Fire, which was the bestselling tablet in our stores on Black Friday," said Nik Nayar, Target’s vice president merchandising, in a statement distributed by Amazon in late November. "We're excited so many guests chose Target as their destination for the new family of Kindle devices and we're sure Kindle Fire will continue to be at the top of wish lists this holiday season."
Amazon said it sold more than 4 million Kindle devices in December, though it did not say how many were sold through Target.
The announcement that Target will stop selling Kindles comes only months after the retail chain, in January, said it would fight back against consumers with smartphones who use Target stores to comparison shop with online retailers such as Amazon—a practice commonly known as “showrooming.” The chain early this year asked some suppliers to renegotiate their agreements with the retailer so the chain can price best-selling products competitively with online-only retailers without cutting into Target’s margins and to make available to Target products that aren’t available from web retailers.
Target’s decision to stop selling Kindle is about both cutting and reinforcing ties, says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC. “I think there’s no question this decision is about cutting ties with a competitor, Amazon, while improving ties with a ‘cool and sexy’ brand, Apple,” she says. “It’s a good decision.”
Target also sells such Apple products as iPod Touch and accessories. Neither Apple nor Amazon responded immediately to requests for comment. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Apple is No. 3, Target No. 22 and Barnes & Noble No. 41.