Retail goliath Target decided to take a stand on the transgender bathroom debate almost one year ago, uploading a blog post that encouraged shoppers to use whatever restroom or fitting room that “corresponds with their gender identity.” A year later, Target is likely regretting that decision.
Shoppers almost instantly initiated a boycott of Target after its inflammatory blog post went live, with critics claiming that the policy gave sexual predators easy access to women and children by allowing them to infiltrate protected spaces under the guise of being transgender.
Nearly 1.5 million people have signed an American Family Association pledge that states: “Until Target makes the safety of women and children a priority, I will shop elsewhere.”
By August of last year, foot traffic at Target stores was down 2.2 percent, and by February of this year, Target’s stock value had plummeted 14 percent after a fourth-quarter report revealed that the retailer had missed profit expectations. Target also earned flak from shareholders for a full-year outlook for fiscal 2017 that was well below analyst projections.
Furthermore, year-over-year sales plunged by almost six percent in the three quarters following the controversial blog post, while same-store sales have dropped precipitously in each quarter since the post as well.
All this is not to mention the $20 million that Target was forced to spend on installing gender-neutral bathrooms in all its stores in a desperate bid to lure back boycotters.
Target CEO Brian Cornell insists that he never signed off on the blog post and only found out about it after it was published. Still, he believes that Target is doing the right thing in sticking by the transgender bathroom policy.
“We took a stance, and we are going to continue to embrace our belief of diversity and inclusion,” he said in May.