Target stores nationwide will soon begin to offer fresh and frozen groceries for pickup after a successful pilot program last year in the Twin Cities.

By the end of the month, more than 400 Target stores will offer products such as fresh produce, milk, eggs, bread and ice cream for customers who want to either pick up their orders inside or use the drive-up service.

Minneapolis-based Target plans to spread the service to more than 1,500 stores in time for the holiday season.

Target's expansion of its same-day, store-pickup options comes as the retailer saw online sales surge 141% last quarter. Same-day shopping services — which includes Drive Up, Order Pickup and Same-Day Delivery with Shipt — grew by 278% as the spread of the coronavirus discouraged many Americans from fully shopping in stores.

In the first quarter that ran from February to April, 40% of Target's drive-up customers were first-time users.

"The speed and convenience of our fulfillment options are unmatched across the country, and they've become even more critical for our guests searching for easy and safe ways to shop during the pandemic," said John Mulligan, Target's chief operating officer, in a statement Thursday.

"By adding fresh grocery to the pickup services our guests already love, we're giving them even more reasons to shop at Target," he said. "During a time when even more people are looking for different ways to get the items they need, we'll continue to invest in making Target the easiest and safest place to shop."

Walmart and several other grocers have had curbside pickup of fresh and frozen groceries available for a while, and it became a top request from Target customers who use drive-up services.

Target announced during its annual investors' meeting in March that it would add fresh groceries to its pickup options in the spring. However, the evolving pandemic delayed the rollout timeline.

The service was first piloted in the Twin Cities last year and then in Kansas City this past spring.

Moody's retail analyst Charlie O'Shea predicted the new nationwide service will increase sales and shopping frequency at Target.

"This move, which has been in the works pre-COVID, will result in the attraction of new food shoppers, and also broaden Target's customer base, which will potentially result in increased sales of its higher-margin private and exclusive merchandise," O'Shea said in a statement.

Target also has a pilot offering alcoholic beverages through drive-up and pickup at close to 100 stores in Florida.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495

Twitter: @nicolenorfleet