In April 2016, Target published a blog post amid the national transgender bathroom debate about its position to stand for inclusivity, arguing that people can use the restroom or dressing room that matched their gender identity.
"Everyone deserves to feel like they belong," the post states. "And you'll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target."
The company’s position led to a nationwide boycott of the store among conservatives after groups like 2nd Vote helped spread the word by launching the #AnywhereButTarget campaign.
And one year later, it’s had quite the impact.
Business Insider reports:
The boycott cost the company millions in lost sales and added expenses. Shopper traffic and same-store sales started sliding for the first time in years after the blog post, and the company was forced to spend $20 million installing single-occupancy bathrooms in all its stores to give critics of the policy more privacy. […]
Sales fell nearly 6% in the three quarters after the post compared with the same period last year, and same-store sales have dropped every quarter since the post.
The company’s CEO Brian Cornell seems to have changed his tune about the policy, claiming he never approved the post and only heard about it until after it was published. If he had known about it ahead of time he would have told colleagues to refrain from ‘flaunting’ the policy, The Wall Street Journal reports. Cornell also admitted that the backlash has been “self-inflicted.”
In May, however, he seemed very supportive of the policy, saying in a CNBC interview that “We took a stance, and we are going to continue to embrace our belief of diversity and inclusion.”
The boycott has had a much different effect on Target than the one Chick-fil-A experienced in 2012 over CFA President and CEO Dan Cathy’s remarks supporting tradition marriage, and the revelation that some of the company’s charitable donations went to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Rather than losing business over the backlash, Chick-fil-A’s sales increased 14 percent that year.