Starting off the LBGTQ+ “Pride Month” on Thursday, Target Corporation might have been feeling less than prideful about its stock performance. The retail giant has faced a cascade of financial setbacks in the stock market, with shares closing at $130.93 on Wednesday after a sharp drop from $159.96 in a span of just nine days.
To add salt to the wound, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank, downgraded Target’s stock from “overweight” to “neutral” on Thursday. Citing the specter of “persistent inflation” and its potential impact on consumer spending, this decision certainly did not help Target’s financial outlook.
Target’s stock price decline marks the company’s most significant losing streak since November 2018. With the value hitting $131.69 on Wednesday, the lowest level since 2020, the retailer’s market cap has shed a whopping $12 billion within two weeks.
However, the underpinning reasons for Target’s waning market value might extend beyond the sluggish economic climate. The company’s recent maneuvers have led some to compare Target to Bud Light, as both brands have faced backlash from conservative and center-right Americans due to their stance on cultural progressivism. Bud Light’s collaboration with transgender “influencer” Dylan Mulvaney didn’t bode well for its brand image, and Target seems to be following a similar trajectory.
Target found itself in the crosshairs of a spontaneous boycott following its decision to spotlight children’s merchandise in LGBT Pride Month store displays, which included swimsuits designed for “tucking” – a practice employed by transgender males to present as female. In response to mounting criticism, some Target stores in the southern United States have moved these sections, a move critics attribute to the conservative-led boycott.
Adding to the controversy was the revelation that an openly Satanist designer had a hand in creating some of the Pride merchandise.
When explaining the repositioning of Pride sections in some stores, Target cited “threats” against store employees affecting their “sense of safety and well-being.” The company spokesperson emphasized Target’s continued commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community, regardless of the ongoing debate.
But as Target grapples with conservative dissatisfaction, it has also drawn ire from the left, with some calling for their own boycott due to perceived backtracking on the company’s pro-LGBT stance, according to Fox News.
All these issues paint a challenging picture for Target, which is caught between the rock of financial hurdles and the hard place of cultural controversies. The retail giant now must navigate this tricky landscape to find a way forward that supports its market performance and aligns with its corporate values.