The Wall Street Journal said this is the first time Target sales have fallen at their more established stores in two years and that further declines can be expected.
Several months ago, Target Stores made an odd gamble. They risked alienating their primary customer base—moms with young kids—to win the praise of the transgender lobby. They announcedtheir ill-conceived new bathroom policy on April 19, and their sales numbers for the first quarter since that decision have been announced. How did it pay off?
Well, it’s bad news for Target — and bad news for the trans activists trying to get other major retailers to degender their restrooms. Even though Target itself reported “better-than-ever profitability” for their second-quarter 2016 earnings, they are the only ones seeing it that way.
USA Today reported that Big Red’s second-quarter earnings fell 9.7% and it “lowered its sales estimate for the rest of the year…” Reuters explained that net sales plummeted 7.2% compared to last year. Sales at new stores open less than a year saw their sales decline by 1.1% — not a good trajectory for building an essential early customer base off the local buzz of a shiny new store in the neighborhood.
The Wall Street Journal said this is the first time Target sales have fallen at their more established stores in two years and that further declines can be expected. CEO Brian Cornell told the Journal, “Our number one challenge was traffic, which affected sales in all of our merchandise categories.” Traffic. As in regular customers choosing to stay away from your store for some reason.
Target officials blamed their earnings drop on “a difficult retail environment,” but it was not so difficult for others. As Target was reporting their flagging sales, CNBC reported that “the world’s largest retailer got even bigger during the second quarter.” Wal-Mart enjoyed its largest sales gains across same-store comparisons in four years, an increase of 1.6 percent for its American stores.
Fortune reported a few factors that could have harmed Target’s sales numbers — selling off its pharmacy business to CVS and getting stung by a 20% decline in the sale of Apple products — but didn’t let the retailer off the hook for their very bad business decision:
So the last thing Target needed was to alienate any of its customer base, given that it is a $75 billion-a-year retailer that caters to a wide swathe of America, including socially conservative shoppers.
A financial analyst for the UBS Group told CNBC, “It’s going to take a while for Target to turn this around. [Traffic’s] not an easy problem to fix.”
Target refuses to concede that their controversial bathroom policy has anything to do with their poor fortunes. However, the very day Target announced its sad sales figures, they explained they would be spending 20 million dollars to install single-use bathrooms in the rest of their 1,800 stores. This is a ton of money to fix a very serious problem they created for themselves by trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist in the first place. They won’t soon recover from it.
Don’t mess with momma bears.