Target boycott

Did the Anti-LGBTQ Bathroom Boycott Hurt Target?

Anti-trans organizations boycotted retail giant Target over the company’s LGBTQ-inclusive restroom policy. Did it have any effect?

The Boycott

Last year, Target posted a statement on their website saying the company would permit trans customers to use the restrooms that correspond with their gender identities.

In response, conservative anti-LGBTQ groups like the American Family Association launched a boycott.

But things got even more extreme. Transphobes vowed to send men into Target’s ladies’ rooms to terrorize women prove some sort of vague point about gender roles. An anti-LGBTQ activist belonging to the Liberty Counsel threatened to bring a gun with her to the bathroom to guard against trans people. Religious extremists launched a campaign to invade the store and scream bizarre screeds and threats at shoppers.

Rage Boycotts

This isn’t the first time right-wingers have launched boycotts on questionable grounds. When Wal-Mart took Confederate flags off the shelves, shoppers threatened to leave and never return, but the big box juggernaut is still standing.

Homophobes boycotted the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which still had a healthy box office debut all the same. And there have been plenty more ridiculous, ill-fated anti-LGBTQ boycotts.

Boycotts of massive corporations are hard to pull off. On the other side, the pro-LGBTQ boycott of Chick-Fil-A doesn’t seem to have accomplished much.

Has the Boycott Hurt Target?

The experts are mixed regarding whether or not the boycott has hurt Target’s bottom line.

Some say it hasn’t. A Target official told the Wall Street Journal, “Any lost sales from the boycott weren’t significant enough to require reporting to investors.”

But Business Insider reports that Target lost millions due to the boycott, thanks to a 6% sales slump and the cost of installing single-stall bathrooms in their stores. It’s not easy to say whether the flagging sales were purely the result of the boycott or whether they’re due to a mix of factors.

At any rate, the company does not plan to change its policy. Target CEO Brian Cornell said, “We took a stance, and we are going to continue to embrace our belief of diversity and inclusion.”