Target Makes a Change on Its Pride Month Merch

Retailer will offer smaller selection only in 'select' stores and online after last year's backlash
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2024 1:56 PM CDT
Target Makes a Change on Its Pride Month Merch
Pride month merchandise is displayed at a Target store on May 24 in Nashville, Tennessee.   (AP Photo/George Walker IV, File)

The backlash last June against Target's offerings for Pride month, featuring various LGBTQ+-themed products, took a toll on the its bottom line, leading to its first quarterly drop in sales in six years. Now, with this year's Pride month right around the corner, the retail giant says it will be offering Pride merch in "select" locations only, based on "historical sales performance," reports USA Today. The products Target will carry for Pride month—everything from adult apparel to home goods and snacks—were decided upon "based on guest insights and consumer research," the company says in a statement.

Although a Target rep wouldn't confirm to the AP exactly how many of its 2,000 or so stores would decline to display Pride month products, sources tell Bloomberg that it will affect about half of the company's locations in the US. For those stores that do continue to sell Pride merch, the collections will be smaller than in the past, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The entire collection will be available online, the retailer says.

When right-wing activists put together boycotts last summer over the Pride month lineup, Target, which has been featuring Pride month merch for a decade, temporarily pulled some of the products or moved them to less-visible areas, citing threats to its employees. One product that proved especially controversial were bathing suits made for transgender adults. That, in turn, created a counter-backlash from LGBTQ+ supporters who said the company was caving to bigotry. That feeling is now being expressed again at the latest news. "Target's decision is disappointing and alienates LGBTQ+ individuals and allies at the risk of not only their bottom line but also their values," Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson says in a statement, per USA Today.

story continues below

Target, for its part, last year acknowledged that the backlash led to lower sales, but called it "a signal for us to pause, adapt, and learn so that our future approach to these moments balances celebration, inclusivity, and broad-based appeal." Now, after the latest development, the retailer insists it's still an ally, saying it remains committed to "supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and year-round." It's not clear what, if any, tangible pushback will emerge. "Pride merchandise means something," Robinson says. "LGBTQ+ people are in every ZIP code in this country, and we aren't going anywhere." (More Target stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.