Target to limit Pride merchandise in stores after backlash

NEW YORK (AP) — Target confirmed Friday that it will not offer Pride Month products in all stores in June after the discount retailer experienced a violent reaction and a drop in sales of its collection honoring LGBTQ+ communities.

Target, which operates about 2,000 stores, said decisions about where to store Pride-themed products, including adult clothing, home goods, food and beverages, would be based on “customer insights and consumer research”.

A Target spokesperson declined to disclose how many stores the merchandise will not be available in, but the company said its online store will offer a full assortment. These moves were first reported by Bloomberg.

“Target is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and throughout the year,” Target said in an emailed statement. “Most importantly, we want to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members, one that reflects our culture of care for the more than 400,000 people who work at Target.

Kelley Robinson, president of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said Target’s decision was disappointing and risks alienating LGBTQ+ individuals and allies at risk not only to their profits, but also to their values.

“Pride products mean something,” Robinson said in an emailed statement. “LGBTQ+ people are in every zip code in this country, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Last year, Target deleted some items of its stores and made other changes to its LGBTQ+ products nationwide ahead of Pride Month after intense backlash from some customers who clashed with workers and toppled displays. Target also moved displays to the back of its stores in some Southern locations last year.

But Target faced a second backlash upset customers by the discount retailer’s response to aggressive, anti-LGBTQ+ activism, which has also swept through Republican state legislatures. Civil rights groups chastised the company for giving in to customers who expressed outrage over a selection of gender-neutral swimsuits it offered last year. Anti-LGBTQ+ customers have also posted threatening videos on social media from inside stores.

Target’s latest initiatives are just another example of how companies are struggling to meet the needs of different customer groups in an era of extreme cultural divisions, particularly around transgender rights. Last year, the Bud Light beer brand angered some customers by attempting to expand your customer base by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Minneapolis-based Target and other retailers, such as Walmart and H&M, expanded their Pride Month offerings a decade or more ago. But transgender rights, including health care and gender-affirming sports participation, have become politicized social issues, prompting lawmakers in some states to try to roll back activists’ earlier gains.

Target’s decision to reduce its presence of Pride products for this year is not unexpected.

Last August, CEO Brian Cornell told reporters that Target had learned from the backlash and said the company would be more thoughtful in merchandise decisions for heritage months that celebrate the groups’ achievements marginalized.

Target said it would have a slightly more focused assortment and would reconsider combining its own and national brands with its external partners.

“As we navigate an ever-changing operational and social environment, we are applying what we have learned to ensure we remain close to our customers and their expectations of Target,” Cornell said.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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