Target’s sales figures have plummeted following the widespread backlash against the retail giant’s “woke” merchandise push.
On Wednesday, Target said its sales tanked in the second quarter.
The drop is the first quarterly decline that the company has suffered in six years.
The news comes after customers boycotted the company for promoting transgender ideology for children as part of its “Pride Month” campaign.
Compared with the year-ago period, the company says its comparable sales fell 5.4 percent in the second quarter, which ended July 29.
Online purchases, meanwhile, slumped a massive 10.5 percent.
The volume of in-store transactions fell, as did the average dollar amount of transactions.
In-store traffic fell 4.8 percent.
This spring, Target was hit with a backlash boycotts after rolling out a new line of children’s merchandise promoting transgender ideology.
The company has sold merchandise linked to Pride Month every June for at least a decade.
However, this year’s inclusion of children’s items promoting gender confusion was a step too far for many of Target’s customers.
On Wednesday, the company acknowledged that the backlash against the promotion of transgender ideology in children’s merchandise hurt sales.
“The strong reaction to this year’s pride assortment” was a “headwind” to sales, Target admitted.
Michael Fiddelke, Target’s Chief Financial Officer, said “traffic and top-line trends were affected by the reaction to our pride assortment, which launched in the middle of May.”
A company official appeared to acknowledge that the company had made a mistake with this year’s Pride merchandise.
“Our goal is for our assortment to resonate broadly and deliver on the target brand promise,” said Christina Hennington, the company’s chief growth officer, on a conference call discussing the quarterly results.
“In this case, the reaction is a signal for us to pause, adapt, and learn so that our future approach to these moments balances celebration, inclusivity, and broad-based appeal.”
The Pride Month collection included children’s books promoting transgender ideology.
Also included in this year’s collection were “tuck friendly” swimwear items that include extra room in the crotch to facilitate hiding male genitalia in female swimsuits.
While Target claimed these were aimed only at adults, images spread on social media showing the items being pitched to children.
In addition, there were many items of children’s clothing and playthings emblazoned with rainbows and slogans associated with transgender ideology.
Despite the decline in sales, the company posted better-than-expected profits for the quarter.
Earnings per share came in at $1.80, well above the $1.40 expected by Wall Street.
The company boosted profits by reducing markdowns and inventory costs.
Inventory declined 17 percent compared with a year ago, including a 25 percent reduction in discretionary categories.
Freight costs and supply chain costs were also lower.
The company also increased some prices.
Weak sales led Target to lower guidance for the rest of the year.
The company says it now sees full-year profit of between $7 and $8 a share, down from an earlier estimate of $7.75 to $8.75.
“We saw better-than-expected profitability in the face of softer-than-expected sales,” said Chief Executive Brian Cornell.
“We continue to take a cautious approach to planning our business, and have therefore adjusted our financial guidance in anticipation of continued near-term challenges on the topline.”