May 2017 – April 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the launching of AFA’s boycott of retail giant Target, following its announcement that it would allow men into women’s bathrooms and changing areas.
The campaign is having an effect, as fourth quarter financial figures indicate the retailer seriously miscalculated when it ignored the safety of its customers.
The Associated Press said Target’s problems “rattled” Wall Street, noting the company’s profit plunged 43% during the fourth quarter and its stock prices plummeted more than 13% to a new two-year low.
“The coming year doesn’t look much better,” AP said. “Its outlook for the first quarter and all of 2017 were far below what industry analysts had been expecting.”
Target’s explanation for the poor performance has been that the retail industry overall has had some problems. However, as some analysts have noted, not every retailer has had problems and few have dropped like Target.
“Target has been unable to keep pace with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which posted another quarter of higher customer traffic and same-store sales,” said AP.
In January, Cabot, a respected financial advisory service, observed that “Target’s bathroom policy killed [Target] stock,” noting that “few mainstream analysts have wanted to touch” the boycott in their analyses of the retailer’s financial struggles.
Early on, Cabot analyst Crista Huff was actually one of the few who took the boycott seriously in its potential to impact Target. Writing in August, she said, “I immediately knew that Target’s revenue would drop, because its customer base would become disenfranchised. How did Target’s management team not know this? Was there an executive meeting wherein the CEO and the marketing department discussed the pros and cons of this pending decision [on announcing the bathroom policy]?”
AFA’s practice in the past has been to initiate a boycott against a large corporation in order to address a specific cultural issue. The primary purpose isn’t to effect a company’s bottom line. However, the Target boycott seems to have actually accomplished both.
In March, James Brumley wrote at InvestorPlace.com that the boycott was “the proverbial X-factor” for the company’s bottom line.
“The exact impact of that decision has been tough to quantify,” Brumley said, “but most observers agree it’s at least part of the reason Target’s top line has been dwindling for most of the past few quarters.”
As AFA has stated from the beginning, its problem with the retail giant is not that the company wanted to provide a way for transgender people to go to the bathroom.
“We want to make it very clear that AFA does not believe the transgender community poses a danger to the wider public,” AFA president Tim Wildmon said. “Rather, this misguided and reckless policy provides a possible gateway for predators who are out there.”
AFA also criticized the policy for ignoring the millions of customers who are simply uncomfortable with the presence of strangers of the opposite sex in a personal setting.
Those wanting more information about the boycott can find it at afa.net.