January 18, 2017
If you want to be a target, go to Target! That's the sad reality of the retail chain, whose leadership is probably spending more time talking to law enforcement than shareholders these days. Since its decision last April to open its bathrooms and changing rooms to people of any gender, the pushback has exploded -- and so have the arrests. From Texas to North Dakota, a string of sexual predators have been caught using Target's policy to gain access to vulnerable women and young girls.
Just this week, another man was taken into custody for video voyeurism in a Lincoln, Rhode Island location. And still the company refuses to relent! But if Target won't listen to common sense, maybe it'll listen to its bottom line. Of course, stores have been hurting since last year, when almost 1.5 million shoppers refused to step foot in the store until the company changed its policy. Now, with a dismal Christmas performance, executives have been forced to scale back their projections, as Target stocks fell another six percentage points today.
Despite an uptick in digital sales, "these results were offset by early-season sales softness and disappointing traffic and sales trends in our stores," said Target CEO Brian Cornell. As everyone on Wall Street knows, Target's stocks have taken a nearly 20-percent nosedive since last year, when the change was announced. If there was zero correlation, why are Walmart and online retailers holding steady? Clearly, the boycott -- the most successful in American Family Association's history -- is having an enormous impact on Target's bottom line. But, much like Starbucks's CEO, who doggedly stuck by his company's anti-marriage campaign, Cornell has made it known that he didn't care what consumers' think.
Desperate to stop the bleeding, the company has tried everything from revamping grocery sales to boosting online promotions. Missing from their strategies to rescue the chain, however, is the most obvious solution: retracting a dangerous store policy that puts women and children at risk. And while the store has hinted at plans to build single, unisex bathroom stalls, even that won't solve the changing room problem plaguing shoppers. It's time for Target to stop living in the aisle of denial and get back to the business of keeping customers safe.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.