Target Scales Back Pride Month Displays After Last Year’s Backlash

Business|Target Scales Back Pride Month Displays After Backlash Last Year

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/10/business/target-lgbtq-pride-month-merchandise.html

It said Pride merchandise would be available on its website and in select stores next month. In 2023, the retailer featured the goods widely.

Shelves at a Target store displaying rainbow colored-items and a sign saying, “Take Pride.”
Target moved Pride displays from the front of some stores last year.Credit…George Walker IV/Associated Press

Julie Creswell

After being criticized last year for its store displays for Pride Month, ​​the annual celebration in June for L.G.B.T.Q. Americans, Target is taking a more limited approach this year.

The retailer said in an emailed statement on Friday that its Pride-themed merchandise would be available in “select stores and on Target.com.” That is a change from previous years, when the products were highly visible and widely available in most Target stores.

Target has often displayed its Pride apparel and merchandise prominently in many of its stores, sometimes near the entrances. Last year, however, Target faced outrage and calls for boycotts from some conservative commentators and customers over the displays, which included clothes and books for children about transgender issues and gender fluidity.

At the time, the chain expressed concern for its employees’ safety after saying some customers screamed at workers and threw Pride-themed merchandise on the floor. Target ended up moving the displays from the front of some stores and placing them farther back.

The retailer said the merchandise in this year’s collection “has been curated based on guest insights and consumer research.” Target’s Pride strategy was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

In taking a more muted approach with its Pride-themed goods, Target risks alienating L.G.B.T.Q. customers and their supporters. For years, companies have used Pride Month as an opportunity to show support for the L.G.B.T.Q. community and tap into its growing financial, political and social clout.

Marketing campaigns around Pride Month had faced previous opposition, but the political climate in the country made last year’s backlash especially potent. For instance, sales of Bud Light, the popular beer from Anheuser-Busch InBev, plunged after the transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a video on her Instagram account as part of a social media campaign to promote a Bud Light contest.

Still, L.G.B.T.Q. advocates say they believe many companies and brands will embrace Pride Month in June.

“Last year, hundreds of brands celebrated Pride loudly and proudly,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of GLAAD, which works with companies to develop communications and plans around Pride Month, in an emailed statement. Citing conversations with corporations this year, Ms. Ellis added, “2024 is on track to be another strong showing of support.”

Jordyn Holman contributed reporting.

Julie Creswell is a business reporter covering the food industry for The TImes, writing about all aspects of food, including farming, food inflation, supply-chain disruptions and climate change. More about Julie Creswell

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