Target has announced they will begin selling the Apple Watch in all 1,700+ stores by October 25. Prices will range from $349-599, so they’ll be selling the Sport models as well as the regular Apple Watch, but only with the Sport bands.
In my time at Target (5 years) it was very clear that they and Apple had a pretty good relationship. Apple products and accessories got more square footage in the store as well as more marketing and promotions than any other tech brand they sold. Doing some quick mental math, Apple products in my latest store got 76 feet for shelf space (or 19 four-foot sections, for my Target friends) while all other tablets, cell phones, and other phone accessories got 48 feet to share.
If you walk into a Target today you’ll likely see mostly full shelves in Apple’s area, but the iPod case is woefully sparse. I remember a couple times where a district manager would walk by the nearly empty iPod case and ask me why I was so light on iPods. It took all my control to stop from saying “Apple isn’t making many, nobody is buying them, and I’ve already asked for more and they’re just not available!” Before I left in June, I told everyone on my team I all but guaranteed that the case would turn into an Apple Watch display by the holidays. Looks like that’s going to be true.
This will be a big win for Apple and Target. Since Walmart is not selling the Apple Watch (although there still is time for an announcement from them), it’s a clear differentiator for them being the best big box retailer to go to this November/December. The iPad used to be the big gift item in previous years, but sales have slowed. This past holiday season in particular, we noticed a sharp decline in demand for the iPad than in previous years. I fully expect the Apple Watch to take the iPad’s place as the Apple product everyone wants to buy as a gift this year, and Target will be a very good place to move a lot of these. When you add in their Red Card which saves you 5% on every sale (or $30 off the $600 Apple Watch) and their tendency to do $50-100 gift card deals, and Target will have a pretty solid pitch against you going to Best Buy or and Apple Store to get your Apple Watch.