NATIONAL NEWS

Target to reduce number of stores carrying Pride-themed merchandise after last year’s backlash

May 10, 2024, 1:07 PM | Updated: 1:34 pm

FILE: Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wedn...

FILE: Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Target is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — Target confirmed Friday that it won’t carry Pride Month merchandise at all stores this spring after the discount retailer experienced backlash and lower sales over its collection honoring LGBTQ+ communities.

Target, which operates roughly 2,000 stores, said decisions about where to stock Pride-themed products, including adult apparel, home goods, foods and beverages would be based on “guest insights and consumer research.”

A Target spokesperson declined to disclose the number of stores where the merchandise will not be available, but the company said its online shop would offer a full assortment. The moves were first reported by Bloomberg.

“Target is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and year-round,” Target said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press. “Most importantly, we want to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members, which reflects our culture of care for the over 400,000 people who work at Target.”

In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson said Target’s decision was disappointing and risks alienating LGBTQ+ individuals and allies at the risk of not only profits, but also their values.

“Pride merchandise means something,” Robinson said. ”LGBTQ+ people are in every zip code in this country, and we aren’t going anywhere.”

Given that LGBTQ+ people account for 30% of Gen Z, Robinson said that companies need to understand that what is needed is “full-hearted support” for the community.

But advocacy group GLAAD had a different take.

In an emailed statement, Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, noted that a strong majority are “neutral or positively impacted” by knowing a company offers Pride merchandise, citing an Ipsos poll conducted last June on behalf of GLAAD. And they view the Pride merchandise as no different than offering products with a sports team logo or other specialized designs, according to the poll results.

Last year, Target removed some items from its stores and made other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride Month after intense reaction from some customers who confronted workers and tipped over displays. Target also moved displays to the back of its stores in certain Southern locations last year.

But Target faced a second backlash from customers upset by the discount retailer’s reaction to aggressive, anti-LGBTQ+ activism, which has also been sweeping through Republican state legislatures. Civil rights groups scolded the company for caving to customers who expressed outrage over a selection of gender-fluid bathing suits it carried last year. The anti-LGBTQ+ customers also posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.

Target’s latest moves are just another example of how companies are struggling to cater to different groups of customers at a time of extreme cultural divides, particularly around transgender rights. Last year, beer brand Bud Light got a negative response from customers angered by its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Target, based in Minnesota, and other retailers such as Walmart and H&M, expanded their Pride Month offerings a decade ago or longer. But transgender rights, including to gender-affirming health care and sports participation, have become politicized social issues, prompting lawmakers in some states to try to reverse activists’ previous gains.

Target’s move to scale back its presence of Pride merchandise for this year isn’t unexpected.

Last August, CEO Brian Cornell told reporters that Target learned from the backlash and said the company would be more thoughtful about merchandise decisions for heritage months that celebrate the achievements of marginalized groups.

Target said it would have a slightly more focused assortment and will reconsider the mix of its own and national brands with its external partners.

“As we navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment, we’re applying what we’ve learned to ensure we’re staying close to our guests and their expectations of Target,” Cornell said.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - In this image taken from San Francisco Police Department body-camera video, the husband of f...

Olga R. Rodriguez, Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

8 hours ago

This photo provided by Vermont State University shows Max the Cat stands in front of Woodruff Hall ...

Associated Press

A college puts the ‘cat’ into ‘education’ by giving Max an honorary ‘doctor of litter-ature’ degree

A Vermont university has bestowed the honorary degree of “doctor of litter-ature” on a cat named Max who has become a beloved member of its community.

10 hours ago

RCMP Superintendent serious crimes branch David Hall speaks about Alberta RCMP linking four histori...

Rob Gillies, Associated Press

Dead US serial sex offender linked to 4 slain Canadian young women

Canadian police say they have linked the deaths of four young women nearly 50 years ago to a now deceased U.S. fugitive who hid in Canada from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s.

10 hours ago

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04:  Sesame Street characters Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Cookie M...

Emma Benson

‘Elmo loves you!’ Our favorite red Muppet stars in mental health campaign

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we all deal with stress and different emotions. In January, Elmo asked a simple question online that sparked a huge conversation.

12 hours ago

Airplane overhead lockers are designed to accomodate luggage -- not people.
Mandatory Credit:	coffe...

Francesca Street, CNN

An airplane passenger was spotted in an overhead bin. This was the reaction

Last week, a video was posted on TikTok appearing to depict a traveler peering out from inside an overhead locker. The airline said they're looking into it.

13 hours ago

FILE - This undated photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sho...

Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer

We’ve crawled into tick season. Tips to protect yourself

Tick season is starting across the U.S., and experts are warning the bloodsuckers may be as plentiful as ever. That's because of a another mild U.S. winter.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Target to reduce number of stores carrying Pride-themed merchandise after last year’s backlash