Signage for Target Corp’s “#TechPride” initiative is placed above displayed products for sale at a company store in Chicago, Illinois.

Christopher Dilts | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Target CEO Brian Cornell said “negative reaction” to the retailer’s Pride merchandise hurt sales and contributed to disappointing quarterly results The company gave this information on Wednesday.

But Cornell stuck to decisions to mark Pride Month and remove some items from shelves or move them to other locations in the store following customer feedback. He said the company noticed behavior from some buyers in June that “made our teams feel unsafe at work.”

Speaking to reporters, he said, “We definitely saw some angry guests who were intimidating our team members and damaging merchandise and defacing some signage.” “Once we took those actions and resolved the situation, we certainly saw things return to normal and we certainly think we took the right steps during that time.”

The backlash against Target, which has spread across social media in videos and comments, suggests that companies must run as conservative politicians and that consumers are increasingly condemning corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. other companies have faced similar boycotts this year. they include AB InBevBud Light, which suffered financial losses from its decision not to defend its partnership and subsequent endorsement of transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. disney Ron DeSantis, a Republican, also came under attack from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after the company criticized a state law that critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay”.

The Supreme Court’s June ruling has ruled against affirmative action. The goals and recruitment initiatives of the companies were also thoroughly scrutinised.

Cornell told reporters it would continue to pursue diversity, equality and inclusion hiring initiatives. He added that the effort helps Target better reflect the communities it serves, which “adds tremendous value to our shareholders.”

For more than a decade, Target has sold products that coincide with Pride Month in June, a celebration of LGBTQ+ people and issues. However, this year the collection received a thunderous response. The response came as politicians across the country passed laws that restrict the civil rights of transgender Americans, set guidelines for social issues that children should study and learn about in the classroom, and shape society. Let’s debate the role of corporations in giving.

After a sharp reaction in June, the target Removed some merchandise from the Pride collectionBut it did not say which items it pulled or how many stores were affected by the threats and boycotts.

The collection included a variety of products, from greeting cards with the words “I’m glad you came out” and rainbow-themed cake mix to T-shirts and tote bags that read “Chosen Family Love”. Is.”

As the Associated Press reports, it also includes “tuck friendly” swimsuits that allow trans people who haven’t had gender-affirming operations to hide their private parts. Some critics falsely claimed that the swimsuits, which were only available in adult sizes, were also available for children. They also objected to other LGBTQ+-themed merchandise for children, such as clothing and books.

It wasn’t the first time this year that Target faced backlash from conservative groups. retail seller faced another boycott In 2016 the company adopted a policy allowing transgender employees and customers to use bathrooms and fitting rooms according to their gender identity. The backlash came as North Carolina and other states were passing so-called bathroom bills, banning transgender people from using government building bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

At the time, Target was also going through disappointing sales results, but its spokesperson told reporters that the effect on business from the boycott was “not significant”.

When Target reported its results Wednesday, executives declined to estimate the financial hit from the Pride merchandise response.

“To be clear, we cannot separate the price impact from a number of other factors in the quarter,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Fidelke said in a call with reporters, pointing to a number of economic factors, including weaker sales of discretionary items. due to inflation.

Cornell said Wednesday that the company will continue to celebrate Pride Month and other heritage months. Yet he added that Target will also think carefully about timing, presentation and how it works with national brands and outside partners as it puts together its collection.

Some of the items that came under fire were made by vendors rather than Target’s own brands.

He said on the earnings call, “At the heart of our purpose is our commitment to bringing happiness to all the families we serve – and it really is all families – so we want to make sure that Target offers the best of the best to all of our guests. May that be a happy place.” , “A place where they can recharge and enjoy shopping experiences and you should expect that we will continue to do that in the years to come.”

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