Target is partaking in campaigns to capitalize on LGBTQ messaging and merchandise and critics are lashing out on social media with calls for boycotts, leading to fears of a Bud Light-like public relations hit.
The retailer’s stock price is down 10.24% in the past month and almost 10% since its March 17 top, just hours before CEO Brian Cornell hailed DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) as having been a boon to business.
The controversy is boiling over just days before June’s Pride Month for the LGBTQIA+ community, but Target’s pride page calls for customers to “celebrate, all year long.”
Calls for Target boycotts on Twitter have been going on for over a week, condemning pride messaging and LGBTQ clothing for children and even babies, TheStreet reported.
It started March 17 with Target CEO Brian Cornell hailing its LGBTQ friendly products.
“When we think about purpose at Target, it’s really about helping all the families, and that ‘all’ word is really important,” Cornell told Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast. “Most of America shops at Target, so we want to do the right thing to support families across the country.
“I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand.”
Cornell hailed DEI initiatives as being a moneymaker.
“The things we’ve done from a DE&I standpoint, it’s adding value,” he continued. “It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”
Target closed at $160.96 on March 17 (topping at $162.43 at 11 a.m. ET that day) and since Cornell’s remarks has only closed lower since, including $147.16 on Tuesday.
Newsmax emailed Target for comment but has not heard back.
Notably, Target’s Twitter account activity has been virtually nonexistent since October 2022, just days after CEO Elon Musk took over — a sign it might be engaging in its own political boycott.
“BREAKING: Target is holding an ’emergency’ meeting over its woke LGBTQ merchandise and tuck friendly bathing suits in the kids section, trying to avoid a ‘Bud Light Situation,'” Charlie Kirk tweeted Tuesday.
“Target hates you. Stop shopping there. Make them suffer!”
Bud Light infamously used pro-President Joe Biden, transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney to help sell its beer in early April, leading to a backlash that has seen a campaign rise against the brewer.
Anheuser-Busch’s share price has fallen $7.99, to $58.74 on Tuesday, or nearly 12% since its March 31 close, the Friday before Mulvaney appeared on Twitter to brag about the personalized Bud Light cans and partnership. The drop represents about $16 billion in lost market capitalization.