Target Stock Continues to Tumble Year After Company Went Public With Restroom Policy

Photo Credit: Mike Kalasnik

The national retail chain Target continues to watch its stock prices tumble a year after the company went public with its restroom and changing room policy, which allows customers to use the facility that corresponds with their “gender identity.”

As of press time, the stock price is $53.24 a share, compared to $81.57 a share a year ago on this day. While the company saw an uptick in November and December, by mid-January, stock prices began falling again. Just a month ago, the price was $63.57 and has now sunk another $10. View Target’s stock chart here.

Some assert that the decline has nothing to do with an ongoing boycott of the company, attributing the slump rather to “unfavorable weather trends in the Northeast” last spring, and later in the year, poor holiday sales figures. Others contend that stock prices were affected by recent company plans to lower prices and renovate its stores.

“Target stunned investors … by abruptly announcing that it would move prices further down market, into the realm of its No. 1 rival, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and accept lower profit margins as a result,” Pioneer Press outlined in February. “The news sent Target shares tumbling as much as 14 percent, the most in more than eight years…”

“While cutting prices may draw more people in the door, it also may alienate consumers seeking a more upscale retail experience,” the outlet wrote. “To hold onto those shoppers, Target will refurbish more than 600 stores and open about 100 smaller shops in cities and college campuses by 2019.”

But according to an article published by the Wall Street Journal this week, Target CEO Brian Cornell has acknowledged to employees that at least part of the company’s woes are due to national backlash after it went public with its restroom policy—a move that Cornell says was “self-inflicted.”

An unnamed source at Target told the outlet that Cornell didn’t know in advance that the policy post was going to be published and “wouldn’t have approved the decision to flaunt it.”

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“Target didn’t adequately assess the risk, and the ensuing backlash was self-inflicted, he told staff. Now, it was too late to reverse course,” the Journal reported in its article “How Target Botched Its Response to the North Carolina Bathroom Law.”

Business Insider also released a report noting the effect, which it entitled “The Target Boycott Cost More Than Anyone Expected—and the CEO Was Blindsided.”

More than 1.4 million signatures have been collected to date from those pledging not to shop at Target until it stops allowing men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms/changing rooms, and vice versa.

As previously reported, the controversy began last April when Target released a statement about its company policy in light of public discussion over “bathroom bills” passed in North Carolina and Mississippi.

“In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity,” the announcement said.

“We regularly assess issues and consider many factors such as impact to our business, guests and team members. Given the specific questions these legislative proposals raised about how we manage our fitting rooms and restrooms, we felt it was important to state our position,” the company noted.

The announcement drew both applause and criticism, and some vowed to discontinue shopping at Target until it changed its ways. While the company defended its policy, stating that it was committed to inclusivity, it also advised that it would spend $20 million adding single stall restrooms to stores that had none to assuage concerns about privacy and safety.

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