TVs in a Target storeThree years ago when the economy went south, businesses laid off employees and closed down manufacturing plants and retailers were no different, even the successful ones like Target. The discount chain halted expansion efforts and focused instead on revamping stores and defending its customer base from competitors like Amazon.com and Walmart.

Welcome to 2011, where the recession is over.Target is relocating four stores and opening 21 new ones this year in 13 states. It's not a lot for a leading national chain -- Walmart plans to open 161 in the U.S. this year and projects having more than 210 new locations in 2012 -- but Target expands slowly even in a good year.

Target opened just 12 stores in 2009, down from 91 new stores in 2008. It takes a while to rev up expansion again, what with site selection, lease negotiations, design and permit approvals, building, staffing and stocking. And Target's focus on remodeling and updating exsisting stores will continue in 2011.

Last year, Target remodeled 340 stores and says it will do the same with 400 locations in 2011. It's adding fresh food to discount stores, making produce, meat and expanded dairy offerings available at what had been smaller-format discount stores (as opposed to SuperTarget Supercenters with full grocery departments).

Target opens stores three times a year: March, July and October. The plan is to open six stores on March 6 in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Massachusetts. Another nine will open on July 24, including two in California, two in Pennsylvania and one apiece in Hawaii, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Massachusetts.

The remaining stores will debut on Oct. 9, with six in California, two in North Carolina, one in Ohio and another in Pennsylvania. Each store should have between 100 to 250 employees.

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