Target on Tuesday said the retail giant will pull some LGBTQ-friendly kids clothing from its stores after facing customer backlash – just days after the company’s top executive dismissed the social media uproar.
The Minneapolis-based chain said one of the main factors for the nationwide “adjustment” ahead of Pride month was because some customers had violent confrontations with workers.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” a Target spokesperson said. ”Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
Target declined to say whether it will remove “tuck-friendly” women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts.
Outraged shoppers have posted videos and images on social media blasting the company for peddling the bathing suits that offer “extra crotch coverage,” as well as rainbow-colored onesies for infants and children.
A spokesperson for the company told the Associated Press that the “tuck-friendly” swimsuits are only offered in adult sizes and that the kids’ collection does not feature the label.
Other kids’ offerings that raised conservative hackles include T-shirts that say “Pride Adult Drag Queen ‘Katya,’” “Trans people will always exist!” and “Girls Gays Theys.”
One of the LGBTQ brands that is being pulled is Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ clothing and accessories, the company said.
“The criticism has been widespread,” Target spokesperson Kayla Castaneda told Reuters. “Folks are reaching out with feedback .. and while some are sharing it with constructive criticism, they disagree with product decisions that we made.”
The flip flop comes after Target CEO Brian Cornell defended the LGBTQ collection and pushed back against the outcry over “woke” capitalism, which has also engulfed iconic beer brand Bud Light as well as entertainment giant Disney.
“I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand,” Cornell said On Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast last week.
Target shares were down more than 3% at Tuesday’s close before the company announced it was ditching some LGBTQ merch.
Cornell, whose company employs more than 450,000 workers in more than 1,900 locations nationwide, had said that the company’s strategy is aimed to cater to a diversifying customer base.
“The things we’ve done from a DE&I [diversity, equity, and inclusion] standpoint, it’s adding value,” Cornell said.
“It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”
With Post wires