Target’s share prices have plummeted for the longest losing streak in five years, reaching rock bottom on Tuesday with a staggering loss of a total of $12 billion in market value in 14 days.
The drop follows the initial controversy which occurred mid–May when members of the LGBT community expressed outrage after images of Target‘s Pride collection were circulated online. This included an array of items such as “tuck–friendly“ female swimwear that received scathing attacks on social media.
In response, Target’s CEO Brian Cornell released a statement to employees last week to address the “discomfort” experienced by customers due to the merchandise.
“What you’ve seen in recent days went well beyond discomfort, and it has been gut–wrenching to see what you’ve confronted in our aisles,” he stated, adding that his company will focus on “two guiding principles” when it comes to satisfying their customers, which are to ensure safety and to honor commitments to the LGBTQIA+ community.
However, Target’s efforts to please its shoppers came too late, as the consumer backlash may have been irreconcilable. Last week, Target made “emergency“ calls to their managers and senior directors to make their Pride products displays less prominent, in order to avoid potential boycotts similar to those that occurred with Bud Light.
Moreover, Target has previously gone under fire when the store first announced in 2014 that it would no longer segregate its product division by gender, and two years later, when it declared that transgender people could use the restroom of their choice. To compensate, Target also spent $20 million on building private bathrooms in every store, in an admirable but insufficient attempt to reassure customers.
On top of that, a Vice President for Brand Management at Target has publically served as the treasurer of an LGBT group that has acquired millions in donations from Target. This organization reinforces the notion that trans or nonbinary school students, for instance, should be allowed to hide their gender identity from their parents.
Ultimately, it may be too late for Target to salvage its reputation. Speculation looms in the air about the future of Target’s stock prices as the boycotts continue to pile up, threatening the existence of the retail chain.