This NJ store’s new expansion: Brilliant or overkill? (Opinion)
There are a total of 44 Target stores in New Jersey. Heck, I pass five of them on my daily drive to/from work.
For this article, I am specifically focusing on one location, on Route 1 North in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick. Like many Target locations, that store just went through a huge renovation. It's now brighter, more open, more modern, hipper, fresher, etc.
In addition, on a recent visit, I noticed a puzzling new addition to the parking lot.
Since Target's Drive-Up service launched in 2018, it has become very popular. (Especially given the surge in curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.) Although quality can be iffy at times, I've found it to be a quick and easy way to shop. (When the app works properly, and they have enough staff, that is.)
And that's where the big change comes to play. The Monmouth Junction store is not only relocating their designated pick-up spots, but also expanding them. Big time.
24 parking spaces reserved for Drive-Up orders! Tripling their previous capacity!
I have never seen more than one or two other cars picking up at that particular Target store at one time. Maybe it gets busier at certain times of day or certain times of year (i.e. Christmas). But at first glance, this seems like a ton of added capacity. Overkill?
Let's think about why they would expend such time, money, real estate, and red paint to add all those Drive-Up spaces. I see four possibilities:
1.) Their parking lot is big enough, so why not.
2.) People —inconsiderate, busy, oblivious, or otherwise — will park in the Drive-Up spots to do "normal in-person" shopping. So the store decided to construct enough extras to accommodate all "legitimate" order pickups.
3.) Target has promoted they are ramping up the availability of fresh groceries for pickup service. More people doing their regular, weekly food shop there means they need more pickup slots. (A sensible, strategic decision, since the Monmouth Junction Target now shares a parking lot with both a Lidl and a Shop Rite.)
4.) Starbucks. In a February 2022 press release, Target announced "the company will begin testing the option for guests in select markets to add a Starbucks order or make a return within Target’s free, contactless curbside service through the Target app." Ah-ha — you can easily see how two dozen parking spaces would be needed for an early morning rush of caffeine and sugar crazed Starbucks fans.
I reached out to the Target PR team for comment regarding my observations, but have not received a response.
Whether you like online ordering and curbside pickup or not, it is clear this kind of shopping is the way of the future. I applaud Target and other retailers for thinking outside the box and pushing the envelope of technology.
But the next time I struggle to find an open parking spot at the Monmouth Junction Target? I will not be a happy camper.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey and, when he's not shopping 'till he drops, can be heard on your radio every weekday. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news and weather forecasts.