Target Says Sales Dropped After Backlash Over Pride Month Merchandise

The company’s second-quarter sales dropped 5.4%, marking its first dip in six years.

In the wake of intense right-wing backlash over its Pride Month merchandise, Target reported Wednesday that its second-quarter sales have dipped for the first time in six years.

According to a new report, Target’s comparable sales declined by 5.4% during its second quarter, which ended on July 29. The sharp dip in sales is partially due to controversy over the company’s LGBTQ+ and Pride Month merchandise, CEO Brian Cornell confirmed during a conference call on Wednesday.

Target began selling its LGBTQ+ merchandise in May, ahead of Pride Month in June. The apparel drew homophobic reactions, with some customers confronting and threatening Target employees at various sites nationwide. In June, Target stores located in five states had to be evacuated after receiving bomb threats.

Target announced that it would make changes to the collection, which included “removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” Some of its stores in the South moved the collection to the back of the store in light of the backlash.

Human rights organizations and lawmakers criticized the company for making the changes, which they believed was the company succumbing to pressure from anti-LGBTQ conservatives.

Cornell said in the conference call on Wednesday that moving forward, the company is applying what they learned from the situation as they “navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment,” Quartz reported.

“The reaction is a signal for us to pause, adapt and learn so that our future approach to these moments balances celebration, inclusivity and broad-based appeal,” Target’s Chief Growth Officer Christina Hennington said in the conference call, according to NPR.

The company expects sales to continue declining for the remainder of the year, The Associated Press reported.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Bud Light, experienced a similar drop in U.S. sales and profits following backlash over a company marketing campaign that featured transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

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