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Survey finds 22% fewer households shopped at Target

Target apologizes for swimsuit ad; leaders meet privately on Super Bowl tax breaks; Garofalo bill would ban more NFL help; broadband upgrade not in budget; new Southwest LRT tunnel plan; and more.

It’ll take a Herculean effort by the PR department to make a silk purse out of this … The Washington Post story, by Amrita Jayakumar, says: “It should come as no surprise that Target’s sales were hit by the December data breach that affected millions. But the number of people visiting its stores and Web site fell to the lowest level in three years, according to a recent report. Only 33 percent of U.S. households shopped at Target in January, a decrease of 22 percent from the same time last year, according to a survey by Kantar Retail, a consulting group. The shoppers who stayed away the most included Gen Xers — its core demographic — and lower-income, infrequent shoppers.”

Shelby Livingston of The Medill Reports says:Target’s current ‘buzz score,’ a measurement of brand popularity, was seven on Feb. 27, up from its lowest point of -35 on Jan. 19, according to YouGov, a market research company that measures public perception of individual brands. The buzz score is based on a scale of -100 to 100 and is determined through daily polling of individuals. Ted Marzilli, CEO of BrandIndex at YouGov, expects Target to bounce back fully within three to four months based on the statistics. Target plans to win over customers by offering ‘irresistible’ merchandise and promotions, said Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan.” I’m thinking … bacon-pepperoni pizzas for $1 apiece.

Oh, and speaking of our friendly local discounter … It apologized for that rather extreme “thigh gap” photoshop job on a swimsuit model. At ABC News, they say: “The model in the ad has a thigh gap, the gaping space between her legs and a worrying body trend among teenage girls. But the gap actually extends into her pelvis (and the bathing suit the ad aims to sell) in an apparent slip of the Photoshop eraser. ‘It was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize,’ Target spokesman Evan Miller told ABCNews.com. ‘We removed the image from the site and we’re working to get a new image up there.’ ” But nothing larger than a size 2!

Along with all its other work, the Legislature has found time to consider what else we can do for pro sports. The AP says: “Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders also met privately Wednesday to talk about tax changes that could be needed to land the Super Bowl. And a state representative has proposed a bill benefiting a professional golf foundation to coincide with the 2016 Ryder Cup to be held in Minnesota.”

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In the PiPress, Doug Belden writes: “Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, has introduced a bill that would prevent adoption of tax exemptions for the Super Bowl: ‘The legislature finds that the provision of substantial state-funded, public financing for the professional football stadium constitutes the maximum amount of state assistance that it is appropriate for state taxpayers to provide to host a Super Bowl,’ says the bill, which does not have a Senate companion.” What’s that line about a stopped clock?

That push for a substantial increase in broadband coverage out-state is apparently not a priority with the governor. Tim Pugmire at MPR says: “Despite a $1.2 billion budget surplus and a funding request from his own task force, Dayton released a revised budget last week that had no money for broadband expansion. On the campaign trail four years ago, Dayton learned firsthand about the inconsistent cell phone and Internet service in some parts of Minnesota. He pledged to have a border-to-border solution by the end of his first term, but that timetable now appears unrealistic. Dayton said he left broadband funding out of his supplemental budget because the plan for a $100 million grant program lacked details about specific projects.”

Meanwhile, a Strib commentary by one Charlie Schmidt of Sherburne County says of the broadband efforts: “[I]nstead of scoffing at yet another good or service being thought of by politicians as a “right,” I figured I would give it a read. Despite the much-publicized debacle that is forced, taxpayer-funded health care, two former pols from Minnesota already have moved on to the next misguided public good.” You only need dial-up to get NewsMax.

Yeah! “Deeper shallow.” That’s the ticket. Laura Yuen of MPR reports: “Another tunnel is on the table for the beleaguered Southwest light-rail project. … At an advisory board meeting Wednesday, elected officials from the Twin Cities learned of a new design that blends elements of both tunnels: ‘I call it the deeper shallow tunnel,’ said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the idea. … The latest plans would keep the trains beneath the Kenilworth channel, rather than sending them above ground over a bridge.”

In the Strib, Pat Doyle says:The latest option on the table would add as much as $85 million to the cost of the project, potentially bringing it to over $1.6 billion. … The latest Met Council version would cost less because it would be built by walling off the creek rather than burrowing beneath it and wouldn’t be as deep. But it has drawbacks beyond being more expensive than running the light rail over the channel. It would add another year to construction of the project, likely delaying the opening of the Southwest line until 2019.”