Aim to remove some LGBTQ merchandise after facing customer backlash
May 23, 2023 | 18:51
Target said Tuesday that the retail giant will pull LGBTQ-friendly children’s clothing from its stores after facing customer backlash — just days after the company’s top executive dismissed the uproar on social media.
The Minneapolis-based chain said one of the main factors behind the nationwide “adjustment” ahead of Pride month was because some customers had violent confrontations with workers.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we̵[ads1]7;ve experienced threats that affect our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” said a Target spokesperson. “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
Target declined to say whether it will remove “tuck-friendly” swimsuits for women that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming surgeries to hide their private parts.
Outraged shoppers have posted videos and photos on social media blasting the company for selling the swimsuits that offer “extra crotch coverage,” as well as rainbow-colored dresses for infants and children.
A company spokesperson told The Associated Press that the “tuck-friendly” swimsuits are only offered in adult sizes and that the children’s collection does not carry the label.
Other offerings for kids who raised conservative hackles include T-shirts that say “Pride Adult Drag Queen ‘Katya’,” “Trans people will always exist!” and “Girls Gays Theys.”
One of the LGBTQ brands being pulled is Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells LGBTQ clothing and accessories with occult and satanic themes, the company said.
“The criticism has been widespread,” Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda told Reuters. “People are reaching out with feedback … and while some share it with constructive criticism, they disagree with product decisions we’ve made.”
The flip-flop comes after Target CEO Brian Cornell defended the LGBTQ collection and pushed back against the outcry over “woke” capitalism, which has also engulfed iconic beer brand Bud Light as well as entertainment giant Disney.
“I think it’s just good business decisions and it’s the right thing for the community and it’s the great thing for our brand,” Cornell said on Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast last week.
Target shares fell more than 3% at Tuesday’s close before the company announced it was dropping some LGBTQ items.
Cornell, whose company employs more than 450,000 workers at more than 1,900 locations nationwide, had said the company’s strategy is aimed at a diversified customer base.
“The things we have done from a DE&I [diversity, equity, and inclusion] standpoint, it adds value,” Cornell said.
“It helps us drive sales, it builds greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and it’s just the right things for our business today.”
With Post wires