Target to Test a Junk-Food-Free Checkout Lane

MINNEAPOLIS (Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS) -

Target is ditching the junk food in the checkout lane at 30 stores this fall.

The test, which is set to begin in October, is part of the retailer’s new focus on offering better-for-you, healthier items, and is part of a company-wide health kick.

Soda, chips and candy bars will be out in the checkout lanes in those test stores. They will be replaced with things like Kind bars and nuts from Target’s private-label brand Simply Balanced.

“We feel like we need to make the healthy option the default option,” Christina Hennington, Target’s senior vice president of merchandising, told reporters on Tuesday during the retailer’s fall national meeting.

But she added that the company doesn’t want to be “preachy” about it so it is curious to see how shoppers respond.

“We are testing the envelope to see how far we can push it without annoying our guests,” she said. “They don’t want us to tell them how to live their lives.”

But she said that it’s something that Target thinks will resonate with its core shopper for whom health and wellness is a top priority. Target recently changed up the assortment in its own cafeteria to add healthier options and saw its own employees respond well to it, she said.

Of course, Hennington didn’t shy away from the fact that there’s a big business opportunity behind some of these changes, too.

Target also announced this week that it will give Fitbits to all of its 365,000 employees as well as deeper discounts on produce and C9 activewear.

It also is shifting its corporate giving focus from education to health and wellness. As part of that change, the retailer started notifying schools around the U.S. this week that it will discontinue its “Take Charge of Education” program next spring. In that 18-year-long initiative, Target donates one percent of a Redcard holders’ purchase to a school of his or her choice.