Thursday, August 18, 2016

Transgender-Friendly Target Reports Quarterly Sales

Target announced its second quarter business results yesterday, something I’ve been looking forward to ever since April, when the department store chain declared its bathrooms open to whatever gender people identified with.

In other words, if someone born with and still in possession of a penis wants to use the lady’s room, he’s more than welcome to do so at Target.

That didn’t go over well with a lot of people, including fans of the Christian American Family Association, which quickly called for a boycott.

Within a week, the nonprofit conservative had 744,800 signatures. And while some of the people who signed the pledge doubtlessly went back on their word, there were also those who didn’t add their name to the list but fully supported it anyway.

In response, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said that while “We certainly respect there are a variety of perspectives and opinions, as a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work – and our guests an inclusive place to shop – we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.”

Now, in a free-market economy, it had every right to say that, just like consumers had every right to shop somewhere else.

As a result, I was extremely interested to see what would come of the situation and freely admit I stalked Yahoo! Finance this week, waiting for the results.

And as of yesterday, the results were officially in. Kind of.

My first clue that things were a bit off was The Wall Street Journal’s headline on Monday: “Target’s grocery business being spoiled by fewer shoppers,” which heralded the company having “a problem in its grocery aisles.” Just the grocery aisles though.

Wall Street Journal or not, that sure seemed like the calculated set-up to an excuse.

So did yesterday’s AP article on Yahoo yesterday after Target announced a 2.2% drop in in-store shoppers – the first time in a year and a half it’s seen a decline in footfall – and a 10% drop in income profit in the second quarter, as well as a slash to its profit forecast

The AP was quick to say that, Customer traffic fell for the first time in a year and a half as Target struggled to get its grocery offerings right and shoppers looking for deals on essentials like detergent were turned off. Other issues, both company-specific and industrywide, ranged from a lack of new electronics for sale and lingering disruptions caused by the sale last year of its pharmacy business to CVS.

But Target’s woes have nothing to do with the “noise surrounding its inclusive bathroom policy,” CNBC assured based on CFO Cathy Smith’s assertion of the same.

Presumably therefore, neither does Target’s announcement on Wednesday that it will be investing $20 million into insuring each of its stores has a single-stall bathroom by next March.

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