Target strong sales, both finished 2018 strong.

Target and Costco both finished 2018 strong as they saw a surge in holiday sales compared to the year before — indicating that shoppers nationwide might have spent more on gifts this season.

Target’s sales increased 5.7 percent during the holiday season in stores and on its websites operating for at least 12 months, the company said Thursday. This growth outpaces that of the holiday season in 2017, when Target saw a 3.4 increase in sales.

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Wholesaler Costco also appeared to benefit from holiday shopping. In a five-week period ending on Jan. 6, sales excluding gas and foreign exchange for Costco in the U.S. increased by 7 percent, the company announced Wednesday.

To try to attract as many shoppers as possible, Target deployed some innovative tactics — including free 2-day shipping, curbside pickup and revamping stores — heading into the holiday season.

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“This performance demonstrates the benefit of placing our stores at the center of every way we serve our guests, including both in-store shopping and digital fulfillment,” Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement.

In the fourth quarter 2018, Target said it expects comparable sales to grow by about 5 percent, setting the company up to have its strongest full-year comparable sales growth since 2005.

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Target also announced today the retirement of chief financial officer Carly Smith, who joined the company in 2015. She will stay in her role until her successor is named, and then move to an advisory role until May 2020, according to the company.

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