Target (NYSE:TGT) announced this morning it was raising its dividend 3% to $0.68 per share. While a notable achievement by itself, considering the number of companies that have cut their payout during the pandemic to conserve cash, the increase marks the 49th consecutive year the retailer has raised its dividend.

If Target can hike the payout one more time next year, it will be elevated into a select group of stocks known as Dividend Kings, or companies that have increased their dividends for 50 years or more. 

No other mass merchandise retailer, including Walmart (NYSE:WMT), has as long a history as Target does in raising its dividend.

Pink piggy bank with crown

Image source: Getty Images.

A special kind of retailer

Retailers like Target and Walmart shone brightly during the pandemic because their diverse inventory of goods and groceries made them essential businesses that were allowed to operate when other specialty retailers were forced to close.

Target CEO Brian Cornell told analysts on the company's earnings conference call last month the retailer saw "a broad surge in sales in more discretionary categories, including apparel."

The new, higher dividend is payable on Sept. 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Aug. 19, and will become Target's 212th consecutive dividend paid since it went public in October 1967.