Target Corp., whose holiday collaboration with Neiman Marcus represented a particularly ambitious foray into exclusive design partnerships, slashed prices on the 60 pieces in the collection Thursday by 50 percent.

Pam Danziger of Unity Marketing, a retail analysis firm that focuses on the affluent consumer, said the 24-designer collection wasn't as popular as the two big names in retailing had hoped. Danziger said the fact that Target cut prices in half reflects both the offering and the overall environment.

"It was overpriced to begin with," she said, "and this shopping season is giving retailers fits."

The new prices appeared more enticing. When the doors opened at 7 a.m. at the Nicollet Mall location Thursday, nearly two dozen shoppers quickly grabbed Tracy Reese dessert plates, Tory Burch beverage bottles and lunch boxes, Diane von Furstenberg yoga mats and Rag & Bone flasks.

Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said the collection was part of Target's "Last Minute Sale" holiday promotions, items that usually get a 50 percent discount. The discount will continue through Jan. 1, although Thomas would not confirm discount percentages after Christmas.

Neiman Marcus has no plans to discount the collection until after Christmas and didn't receive word of Target's discounts until Thursday morning, said Catherine Loose, public relations manager at the Minneapolis store. "We don't do a lot of markdowns until after Christmas," she said.

For Minneapolis-based Target, the alliance with Neiman Marcus took a proven design-partnership strategy to a new level by melding the purveyor of cheap chic with one of the biggest names in luxury. Previous partnerships included a Missoni collection that was such a success the website crashed.

But Thomas said comparing the Neiman Marcus collection with the Missoni project is unfair. For one thing, the Neiman partnership had more than double the inventory. Also, customers were restricted to buying no more than five of one item.

Thomas declined to comment on sales of the Neiman Marcus collection after its Dec. 1 launch, but he said that online traffic on the release date was on par with Black Friday.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633