Backlash to Pride Merch Hurt Target

Retailer sees quarterly sales fall for the first time in 6 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2023 10:20 AM CDT
Backlash to Pride Merch Hurt Target
Pride month merchandise is displayed at a Target store on May 24 in Nashville, Tennessee.   (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Target's quarterly sales dropped for the first time in six years, due in part to the "strong reaction" to its Pride month offerings, the company said Wednesday. Sales at stores open for at least a year fell 5.4% last quarter, while foot traffic declined 4.8%, CNN reports. From April to June, consumers cut back on nonessential items, which make up more than half of Target's merchandise, as they encountered high prices for essentials, per the Wall Street Journal. But "the strong reaction to this year's Pride assortment" also impacted sales, Target's chief growth officer, Christina Hennington, said Wednesday, per CNN. Target offered Pride-themed products this spring as it has in previous years. But this year, some critics responded with anger and violence, knocking down displays and threatening employees.

Some called for boycotts as "the anti-LGBTQ campaign spread misleading information about the Pride month products," per CNN. Target ultimately pulled some Pride products, which resulted in further calls for boycotts from the LGBTQ community. The Journal reports the drop in sales "mirrors similar situations at other companies that have angered people on both sides of America's culture wars," including Bud Light. Target rival TJX—owner of TJMaxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods—saw a 6% jump in comparable sales in the same quarter, per the Journal. Hennington said Target would "celebrate Pride" again, but with a more focused assortment of products. "The reaction is a signal for us to pause, adapt, and learn," she said, per CNN. (More Target stories.)

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