Plunging sales and a market cap crash of an estimated $11 billion have convinced Target to try to persuade customers with traditional values that their restrooms still are safe after the company announced earlier this year that people could use the facilities of the gender with which they ‘identify.”
On Wednesday, Fortune reported, the company announced plans to spend $20 million to add private single-stall locking bathrooms at all of its stores where that option is not currently offered.
The company already has single-stall bathrooms anyone can use at about 1,400 of its 1,800 stores, Target spokesperson Katie Boylan said.
The report directly blamed the drop in shopper traffic at least partly on the retailer’s “transgender-friendly” bathroom policy, which the retailer does not intend to alter. Target shoppers will still be allowed to “use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”
However, Boylan said Target decided to add single-stall, lockable bathrooms in all of its stores “because we’re listening.”
The transgender bathroom policy announced in April prompted hundreds of thousands of people to sign petitions and pledges to avoid the retailer.
Company officials downplayed the impact of the customer reaction in May when the next quarter report revealed plunging numbers and again this week when the numbers fell further.
Cathy Smith, the company’s chief financial officer, admitted in a media briefing this week “some of our guests like and some dislike our inclusive bathroom policy.”
The company will work on the renovations until November then shut down work over the Christmas shopping period and resume after the holiday.
Fortune reported that while Smith “did not say whether the backlash had cost it some business, the announcement of the bathroom policy came at a time pressure on Target was already building from a number of directions.”
“For one thing, Target lost quite a bit of shopper traffic in the second quarter because of the disruption from the transition of the pharmacy business it sold last year to CVS Health … (CVS has undertaken an aggressive marketing campaign to lure customers to its pharmacies within Target stores.) Target also got dinged by a 20 percent drop in Apple … products and customers not taking to its fresh grocery offering,” Fortune said.
“So the last thing Target needed was to alienate any of customer base, given that it is a $75 billion-a-year retailer that caters to a wide swathe of America, including socially conservative shoppers.”
At the American Thinker, Sierra Rayne pointed out that since April 19, Target “has massively underperformed its main competitors, including Costco, Walmart, Dollar General and Dollar Tree.”
The report said Costco’s “market cap change is unchanged from April 19, Walmart is up 1 percent, Dollar General has increased 8.7 percent and Dollar Tree has seen as 11.2 percent rise in market cap over this period. In sharp contrast, Target’s market cap has seen a 20.8 percent decline.
“With its pre-‘transgender’ policy stock trend best correlating with Walmart’s, Target’s market cap should currently be up at least one percent relative to the April 19 value, rather than 21 percent down.”
The report said, “As a result, the direct costs of the boycott are now at $11 billion and growing.”
USA Today notedy Target’s second-quarter earnings fell 9.7 percent to $680 million.
Target cited a “difficult retail environment,” and the report said, “Shares of Target fell 6.7 percent in pre-market trading to $70.42.”
The Daily Beast noted Smith “did not make the correlation” with the bathroom policy.
However, it said, “analysts believe the slump is partially due to shoppers unhappy with the company’s declared ‘pro-inclusivity’ bathroom policy allowing transgender individuals to use the restrooms matching their gender identity.”
WND reported in July that, fulfilling the fears of Target policy critics, a man named Sean Patrick Smith, who “identifies as a woman by the name of Shauna Patricia Smith,” was arrested after allegedly taking photographs of women inside a Target dressing room in Ammon, Idaho.
The practice has been opposed by groups such as the American Family Association, which launched a petition signed by more than 1.3 million demanding a reversal of the open-door policy.
And Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, issued a scathing criticism of Target over what he called a policy that “encourages sexual predators and puts women and children in danger,” as WND reported.
WND tracked the alarming trend, reporting incidents of peeping toms at Targets in North Dakota, Massachusetts, Texas and Ohio.
According to a 16-year-old girl who visited a Target in Bismarck, North Dakota, a man positioned a phone camera under her door.
“When she walked out, the man entered a different dressing room,” reported reported WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota.
Police looked for another peeping tom in Revere, Massachusetts, who reportedly spied on a 17-year-old girl changing in a Target dressing room.
Police provided still photos of the suspect they said was a white male in his 30s with brown hair and a white button-down shirt. He drove a Toyota Prius.
Also in May at a Frisco, Texas, Target, a 29-year-old man, Charles Sidney McKissack III, was caught by police after he reportedly used his cell phone to film an underage girl in the women’s dressing room.
“Investigators say the suspect put his cell phone over the wall of a female changing room and shot video of the girl,” according to Fox 4 in Dallas.
He ran off after the girl saw the camera, but police released footage of him captured by a store camera.
And in April, Joshua Sheldon, 33, pleaded guilty to voyeurism in Miami Township, Ohio, after he reportedly looked under a women’s dressing room door in Target.
Sheldon was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay a $380 fine. He is required to register as a sex offender and stay away from Target stores for two years.
Shortly after the new policy and petition, Target’s stock fell from $83.98 per share to $81.33, in just a few hours, as WND previously reported. It then took to even lower levels and has yet to recover.
Additional reporting by Chelsea Schilling.