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The goal is to limit Pride merchandise in stores following the backlash

The goal is to limit Pride merchandise in stores following the backlash

NEW YORK (AP) — Target confirmed Friday that it will not carry Pride Month merchandise in all stores in June after the retailer discounted It saw a backlash And lower sales compared to its collection that honors the LGBTQ+ communities.

Target, which operates nearly 2,000 stores, said decisions about where to stock Pride-themed products, including adult apparel, home goods and food and beverages, will depend on “guest insights and consumer research.”

A Target spokesperson declined to say how many stores the merchandise will be unavailable, but the company said its online store will offer a full assortment. The moves were first reported by Bloomberg.

“Target is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and throughout the year,” Target said in an email statement. “Most importantly, we want to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members, which reflects our culture of care for the more than 400,000 people who work at Target.”

Kelly Robinson, president of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said Target’s decision was disappointing and risks alienating LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, not only at the expense of profits, but also their values.

“Pride merchandise means something,” Robinson said in an email statement. “LGBTQ+ people are in every zip code in this country, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Last year, Target Remove some items from its stores and made other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride Month after intense backlash from some customers who confronted workers and flipped over displays. Target also moved displays to the back of its stores in some Southern locations last year.

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But Target faced a second backlash of upset customers Through the discount retailer’s response to aggressive anti-LGBTQ+ activity, which has also swept Legislatures in Republican states. Civil rights groups rebuked the company for acquiescing to customers who expressed anger at a selection of unisex swimsuits it introduced last year. Anti-LGBTQ+ customers also posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.

Target’s latest moves are just another example of how companies are struggling to meet the needs of different groups of customers at a time of intense cultural divisions, particularly around transgender rights. Last year, beer brand Bud Light angered some customers by trying to do just that Expanding its customer base By partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Minneapolis-based Target and other retailers, such as Walmart and H&M, have been expanding their Pride Month offerings for a decade or more. But transgender rights, including gender-affirming health care and sports participation, have become politicized social issues, prompting lawmakers in some states to try to reverse activists’ past gains.

Target’s move to reduce its Pride merchandise presence this year is not unexpected.

Last August, CEO Brian Cornell told reporters that Target had learned from the backlash and said the company would be more thoughtful about merchandise decisions for Heritage Months that celebrate the achievements of marginalized groups.

Target said it will have a slightly more focused assortment and will reconsider the mix of its private and national brands with its third-party partners.

“As we navigate an ever-changing operational and social environment, we are applying what we have learned to ensure we remain close to our guests and their expectations from Target,” Cornell said.

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