Target’s second-quarter sales fell for the first time in six years amid backlash to the company’s LGBTQ “Pride Month” merchandise.
April 29-July 29 sales at stores open for at least one year dropped 5.4%, including a 10.5% decline online, CNN Business reported. The company cut its annual sales forecast.
Even the retail giant’s foot traffic declined in the second quarter—by 4.8%. Michael Baker, an analyst at the investment banking company DA Davidson, attributed the foot traffic decline to “a mix that skews too discretionary, as well as the Pride merchandise issues.”
Target’s stock dropped 27% over the past year, from $177 per share to $135 per share on market open.
“Consumers are choosing to increase spending on services like leisure, travel, entertainment and food away from home, putting near-term pressure on discretionary products,” CEO Brian Cornell said on a call with analysts Wednesday, CNN Business reported. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans spend more on experiences—such as concerts and movies—and less on the physical items and home goods that Target offers.
Cornell also mentioned the increase in crime, which tends to plague cities with Democratic mayors, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis last year. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“Safety incidents associated with [theft] are moving in the wrong direction,” Cornell said. “During the first five months of this year, our stores saw a 120% increase in theft incidents involving violence or threats of violence.”
Yet the backlash to Target’s “Pride” merchandising also played a key role in depressing sales.
Christina Hennington, Target’s chief growth officer, admitted that “the strong reaction to this year’s Pride assortment” affected sales. “The reaction is a signal for us to pause, adapt, and learn.”
The decline comes amid a similar sales slump for Bud Light, which sent a beer can to Dylan Mulvaney—a male “influencer” who claims to identify not just as a woman, but as a “girl”—featuring Mulvaney’s face. While the one-off celebratory can did not represent a rollout of Mulvaney-branded cans for sale, conservatives launched a boycott of the beer, which toppled Bud Light from its top-selling spot.
Target’s Pride Month products included LGBTQ-themed gingerbread houses, onesies, and female swimsuits designed to discreetly hide male genitalia. The company responsible for the products also makes products with satanic symbols, including a shirt reading “Satan respects pronouns.”
On May 24, Target responded to the backlash, announcing that it would move the Pride products away from the front of its stores.
Democrats responded in anger.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom accused Target CEO Cornell of “selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists.” He called the backlash part of “a systemic attack on the gay community,” and warned that “this doesn’t stop here. You’re black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next.”
Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson demanded that Target “put the products back on the shelves and ensure their Pride displays are visible on the floors.”
“Extremist groups want to divide us and ultimately don’t just want rainbow products to disappear, they want us to disappear,” Robinson added.
Target claimed to have received “threats” as a result of the Pride merchandise, but when The Daily Signal’s Katrina Trinko reached out to the company, asking for evidence, the company did not respond.
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