Target Corporation has learned the hard way that inserting itself into the transgender bathroom controversy currently sweeping the nation wasn’t such a great business move.
On April 19th, the image-conscious retailer publicly declared customers in its stores are free to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity, sparking a huge outcry and backlash on a number of fronts.
Its stock has fallen 4.2% in the past two weeks, from $83.50 per share on April 19 to a closing price of $79.99 per share on May 3. As CNS reports, by April 28th, the retail giant’s stock market value was down $1.5 billion, according to Accuracy in Media.
The company’s brand perception — one of its key assets — has been similarly damaged. According to YouGov BrandIndex, which conducts daily surveys on consumers’ brand perceptions, Target’s had fallen from 42% of people who would consider shopping at Target to 38% — a “significant” shift in the time period of April 19th to 27th. (H/T USA Today)
Meanwhile, more than a million people have signed the American Family Association’s pledge to boycott Target the retailer.
As recently as last week, a Target spokeswoman Forbes, “Our belief in and commitment to inclusivity has not changed” — apparently unmoved by the outcry from so many (former) customers.
So today’s news that Target may be changing its tune — or at least open to talking — is big.
As Fox Business reports, Target has now agreed to meet with representative from the boycott organizers:
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) May 5, 2016
No further details are yet available, and many in support of the boycott are urging a wait-and-see approach until we know more.
But Target has put itself in a tough spot now. Anything that’s seen as backing away from their original position will likely spark outcry from LGBT activists. And anything less than addressing it will likely continue to cost them in shoppers and their bottom line.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]