In an unprecedented development, Target’s stock price fell to a 3-year low on Thursday amid intensifying backlash over the company’s decision to sell Pride merchandise aimed at children. The stock price plummeted to $137.39 USD, a low not seen since August 2020, before rebounding slightly, but the downward trend continued.
The Minneapolis-based retail giant has reportedly lost $9 billion in market value since calls for a boycott began on social media. Just a week ago, before the controversy erupted, Target’s stock closed at $160.96 a share, but has now tumbled to $141.76, shrinking the company’s market value to $65.3 billion, a 12% drop.
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 radical LGBTQ clothing for children, has been at the center of the controversy. The company has been subjected to public outrage and calls for a boycott since the collection was rolled out. Some customers reportedly confronted workers and tipped over displays, leading Target to remove some items from its stores and make changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month.
Among the items garnering the most attention were “tuck-friendly” women’s swimsuits designed for trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company that sells occult and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, also caused backlash.
In response to the backlash, Target has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores. However, this hasn’t stopped the boycott from gaining momentum. Many have suggested that Target could see its business suffer as Bud Light did, referring to the recent controversy in which Bud Light faced significant backlash for a marketing campaign with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
The campaign led to calls for a boycott backed by conservative figures, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The resulting turmoil led to a 21% drop in sales volume for Bud Light in the week that ended April 15, and two of its marketing executives were placed on leave.
As the boycott intensifies, Target finds itself in a precarious situation reminiscent of Bud Light. With its stock at a 3-year low and a reported loss of $9 billion in the past week, it remains to be seen how the company will navigate this crisis and what impact it will have on its future business.
Target had at least two internal emails leaked to the public yesterday as well. Executives doubled down and defended the company’s controversial stance and dismissed customer criticism as ‘abusive.’ While the email expressed appreciation for the resilience of the team and thanked store representatives despite challenging situations, they were forced to acknowledge the staff handling angry and threatening calls.
The email also mentioned the company’s plans for Pride Month and adjustments made to address threats to the team’s safety. However, Target failed to address the concerns of a significant portion of Target’s customer base by prioritizing its political agenda over customer commitment. This approach has definitely created negative consequences for public relations and revenue.