Target Scales Back LGBT-Themed Merchandise Amidst Ongoing Backlash

Target Modesto, California | Source:


Target has announced a significant shift in its strategy for this year’s Pride Month, deciding to limit the availability of its LGBT-themed merchandise to online platforms and select physical stores. This move comes after last year’s Pride Month campaign sparked considerable controversy, dividing customers and impacting sales negatively.

In a recent statement, Target explained that instead of displaying its Pride Month collection prominently in all stores, the merchandise will be curated based on consumer feedback and historical sales performance. The collection, which includes adult apparel, home goods, and food items, will be available on and in select stores. The company also plans to participate in Pride Month events nationwide, particularly in its hometown of Minneapolis.

The decision to scale back comes after Target faced intense criticism last summer for its LGBT-themed collection, which included a “tuck-friendly” swimsuit designed to help men who identify as transgender conceal their genitalia. Some shoppers were also upset by other products that featured pro-LGBT messages, including clothing with slogans like “We Belong Everywhere” and “Cure Transphobia.”

Following the backlash, Target announced it would remove some of the Pride merchandise from its shelves. Certain stores, particularly in socially conservative areas, moved these items away from prominent displays to avoid further confrontations. Target claimed that these adjustments were necessary due to threats and confrontational behavior impacting the safety of their employees.

The controversy has had tangible effects on Target’s financial performance. In August 2023, the company reported its first quarterly sales decline in six years, with a 4.9 percent drop in net sales from the previous year. For the full year, Target’s revenue fell by 1.6 percent to $107.4 billion. The retailer partly attributed this decline to changing consumer trends post-COVID but acknowledged the need to reevaluate its approach to Pride Month.

Target’s chief executive, Brian Cornell, addressed these challenges during a corporate earnings call, emphasizing the importance of staying aligned with customer expectations. He highlighted the company’s commitment to celebrating diverse moments while being mindful of product timing, placement, and presentation.