Target witnessed a $6 billion decrease in the retail behemoth’s market capitalization amid consumer backlash over a designer featured in the company’s most recent “Pride Month” collection who appears to have created products with Satanic imagery.
The company’s stock price has declined from $152.28 on May 19, the day before activist Scarlett Johnson posted a thread showing that Target had hired the artist to design items for the store, to $139.39 on May 25, marking an 8.5% decrease over the course of a single week. The firm’s market capitalization, which refers to the total value of a publicly traded company’s outstanding shares, fell from $70.4 billion to $64.4 billion over the same time period.
Abprallen, the artist hired by Target to create the controversial items, had designed a mini messenger bag with the slogan “We Belong Everywhere,” a tote bag with the phrase “Too Queer For Here,” and a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People” for the nationwide retailer. Other products featured on the artist’s website, which were not sold by Target, included a T-shirt with the phrase “Satan Respects Pronouns” and a design of a skeleton draped in rainbow colors that said “Trans Witches For Abortion.”
“Satanists don’t actually believe in Satan, he is merely used as a symbol of passion, pride, and liberty,” the artist said on his website, which now appears to be temporarily shuttered. “He means to you what you need him to mean. So for me, Satan is hope, compassion, equality, and love. So, naturally, Satan respects pronouns. He loves all LGBT+ people.”
Target provoked additional controversy with a female swimsuit marketed as “tuck-friendly” and “extra crotch coverage,” permitting men who call themselves women to wear the items. Beyond the swimsuit, which only came in adult sizes, Target unveiled products for kids and babies, such as onesies and small shirts with phrases like “Just Be You And Feel The Love,” as well as rainbow-colored leggings, tutu skirts, jumpers, and a variety of children’s books.
The company made calls to managers and senior directors last week amid the backlash, reportedly telling the employees to make their “Pride Month” displays less prominent for fear of provoking another “Bud Light situation,” a reference to the beer brand’s plummeting sales. Conservative customers have decreased purchases of the brew in the weeks after a marketing campaign that featured self-identified transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Data now indicate that sales for Bud Light plummeted nearly 24% in the week ended May 6 relative to the same period last year, while other brands from Anheuser-Busch suffered to a lesser extent. The company now seems to have alienated those on both ends of the political spectrum: owners of gay bars have threatened to launch boycotts after the firm issued a lackluster attempt to back away from Mulvaney and appease conservatives.
Target has meanwhile pulled the items designed by Abprallen as a result of the backlash. “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” the firm said in a statement. “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.”