Target suffers sales drop after ‘Pride Month’ backlash

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Target’s said its quarterly sales fell for the first time in six years — a result of customers’ “negative reaction” to its spring “Pride” clothing collection that featured “tuck-friendly” swimwear and LGBTQ-friendly gear for infants and children.

Brian Cornell, who’s been Target’s CEO since 2014, vaguely referred to Target’s disastrous rainbow-clad collection in an interview, saying: “As we navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment, we are applying what we learned,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sales at stores and digital channels open for at least a year were off 5.4% from a year earlier, according to Target’s Q2 earnings report released Wednesday, while digital sales slipped 10.5%.

Executives said they couldn’t quantify the impact the Pride collection alone had on comparable sales, The Journal reported.

“Multiple economic crosscurrents are putting pressure on consumers,” Cornell also told the paper. While foot traffic to Target stores recovered steadily in July, customers were purchasing food and other essentials rather than spending on apparel and impulse purchases due to stubbornly high inflation.

Target’s revenue for the three-month period ended July 29 was $24.8 billion — 4.9% lower than this time last year and worse than the company’s predictions.

The figure was slightly under the $25.2 billion economists expected, though the dip isn’t surprising considering Target’s stock lost nearly $14 billion as the Pride Month controversy grabbed headlines.

Target’s sales fell 5.4% from Q1 to Q2, and revenue was 4.9% lower from 2022, to $24.8 billion. The retailer’s CEO cited a “negative reaction” to its disastrous Pride collection as reason for the losses.
Christopher Sadowski

The hefty losses were the result of a boycott that lasted over two weeks — triggered by Target’s release of “PRIDE” in May — an LGBTQ-friendly line that includes clothing for children and “tuck-friendly” women’s swimwear with “extra crotch coverage.”

Customers accused Target of grooming children with the items — including alt-right rapper Forgiato Blow who topped iTunes charts with his rap song, “Boycott Target” that addressed an LGBTQ “agenda” that the rapper sings has gone “too far.”

The fierce backlash from conservative consumers, including reactions that turned aggressive in some stores, pushed Target to yank some of its Pride merchandise from shelves in select locations and move displays farther back in others.

The move then caused Pride supporters to condemn the company for falling victim to “extremists,” leading to a boycott from customers on both sides of the political aisle.

The latest sales decline pushed Target to lower its profit goal for the full year, now expecting “comparable sales in a wide range around a mid-single digit decline for the remainder of the year,” according to its Q2 report.

Despite the losses, Target will still be celebrating Pride Month in 2024 with a collection, though executives told The Journal that it will be “more focused assortment of merchandise.”

The Post has sought comment from Target.


Conservative customers were particularly outraged by the “tuck-friendly” women’s swimwear with “extra crotch coverage" that was part of Target's "PRIDE" collection.
Conservative customers were particularly outraged by the “tuck-friendly” women’s swimwear with “extra crotch coverage” that was part of Target’s “PRIDE” collection.
FOX News

Other items released in honor of Pride Month in June included LGBTQ+-themed clothing and accessories for infants and children.
Other items released in honor of Pride Month in June included LGBTQ+-themed clothing and accessories for infants and children.
BACKGRID

Target has been celebrating the LGBTQ+ community during June with a clothing line and other items touting rainbow colors and related slogans for years.

However, the move has frequently landed the retailer in hot water for taking part in “rainbow capitalism,” which describes profiting off the commodification of the LGBTQ+ community, especially surrounding Pride month in June.

For 2022’s Pride month, Target tapped a team of seven LGBTQ+ artists to design its collection. Pieces included genderless underwear and swimsuits.

There were also chest binders — a gender-affirming undergarment often used by transgender and nonbinary people to flatten their chests — and packing boxers, which are made with an extra pocket for a gender-affirming prosthetic.

Though LGBTQ customers seemed happy with the 2022 Pride line, they still expressed disappointment that the inclusive clothing was only available during Pride celebrations.

Last year’s Pride collection was an improvement from 2021, when the retailer’s LGBTQ+ line was slammed for being “ugly” and out of touch.


"As we navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment, we are applying what we learned," Target chief Brian Cornell said of the retailer's Pride collection in an interview with The Journal.
“As we navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment, we are applying what we learned,” Target chief Brian Cornell said of the retailer’s Pride collection in an interview with The Journal.
Getty Images

However, Target’s earnings didn’t suffer as much in recent years. Last year, the retailer took home $6.9 billion, a staggering 59% increase from 2022.

And in 2021, the Minneapolis-based chain reported $4.4 billion in net income for the fiscal year — a 33.13% increase from 2020.

The latest quarterly report was a far cry from Target’s performance throughout the pandemic, when consumers flocked to the “cheap chic” retailer for clothes, home goods and other discretionary goods.

Target shares have fallen nearly 18% so far this year, to $125.05.

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