Target, the Minneapolis-based retail giant, experienced a significant setback as its stock price hit a three-year low on Thursday. The company faced a growing backlash following its decision to sell Pride merchandise targeted at children, leading to a substantial drop in its stock value. At its lowest point, the stock price fell to $137.39 USD, a level not seen since August 2020. Although there was a slight rebound, the downward trend continued.
According to reports, Target has lost approximately $9 billion in market value since calls for a boycott surfaced on social media. Just a week prior to the controversy, the company’s stock closed at $160.96 per share. However, it has now tumbled to $141.76, resulting in a 12% decrease in the company’s market value, which now stands at $65.3 billion.
Target stock has just COLLAPSED to its lowest trading value in a YEAR with no end in sight.
For the first time in my life, common sense Americans are standing up for themselves and committing to ACTION.
We are the majority. We are winning. We’re just getting… pic.twitter.com/7y0DBtUemi
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) May 26, 2023
Target’s “Pride” collection, featuring LGBTQ-themed clothing for children, became the focal point of the controversy. The company faced public outrage and calls for a boycott following the launch of this collection. Some customers even confronted workers and disrupted displays, prompting Target to remove certain items from its stores and make nationwide adjustments to its LGBTQ+ merchandise in preparation for Pride month.
Among the items that received significant attention were women’s swimsuits designed to accommodate trans women who have not undergone gender-affirming surgeries. The inclusion of designs by Abprallen, a London-based company selling occult and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, also drew backlash.
In response to the growing backlash, Target decided to move its Pride merchandise from the front to the back of some stores in the Southern region. However, this action failed to halt the momentum of the boycott. Many have drawn parallels to the recent Bud Light controversy, where the brand faced severe backlash for a marketing campaign involving transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The resulting turmoil led to a 21% decrease in Bud Light’s sales volume in the week ending April 15 and the suspension of two marketing executives.
As the boycott against Target gains traction, the company finds itself in a precarious situation reminiscent of Bud Light’s experience. With its stock at a three-year low and a reported loss of $9 billion within a week, the company faces uncertainty regarding how it will navigate this crisis and the potential impact on its future business.
In another blow to Target, internal emails were leaked to the public, further exacerbating the situation. Executives within the company remained firm in their defense of the controversial stance and dismissed customer criticism as “abusive.” While expressing gratitude for the team’s resilience and acknowledging the challenges faced by store representatives, the email highlighted the staff’s handling of angry and threatening calls.
The email also briefly mentioned the company’s plans for Pride Month and the adjustments made to address potential threats to the team’s safety. However, Target failed to address the concerns raised by a significant portion of its customer base, leading to accusations of prioritizing its political agenda over customer commitment. This approach has undoubtedly had negative repercussions on public relations and revenue.
As Target grapples with the ongoing boycott and the resulting decline in its stock price, the company faces the difficult task of restoring trust and reconciling with its customer base. The path forward remains uncertain, and Target’s actions in the coming weeks will be crucial in determining the company’s future success.