Target’s unpopular decision to force its customer base of mothers and children into mixed-sex bathrooms and changing rooms is creating an economic opportunity for other firms — but none have announced plans to exploit the company’s pro-transgender mistake.
“Target could lose millions of customers if other retail chains take advantage of the boycott,” says Chris Stone, a former brand-manager who now runs Faith Based Consumer, which grades companies on their respect for Christian consumers. Indeed, Walmart just reported an unexpected uptick and experienced a rise in stock prices.
“If ten million people switched from Target to another company just once, they could cost the company $600 million in revenues, assuming an average purchase of $60,” he said. “That lost revenue will have an even greater impact on company profits and stock prices.”
“If Walmart comes out and proactively states they welcome these disenfranchised consumers [and] they’ll provide proof of performance, there will be a migration of consumers from Target to Walmart,” Stone told Breitbart. In fact, any company which “reaches out to that consumer, and says ‘You’re welcome here,” can benefit, Stone said.
Target’s managers, he added, “have taken a position that is so polarizing, it will be very easy for the consumer to pick and choose among the competitors who they like better.”
Though it is hard to know if Target’s loss was Walmart’s gain, late last week the nation’s largest retailer reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit. The announcement drove up stock prices even its competitors have been on the downturn.
“It looks like the middle-to-higher-income customers have cut back, but the lower-income customer is spending,” analyst Brian Yarbrough told Reuters last Thursday.
Walmart stock shares were up 9.3 percent at $69.05 on Thursday morning’s trading.
Only a few small or upmarket chains have quietly announced their own transgender-friendly bathroom policies, including Barnes & Noble booksellers, Hudson’s Bay Co. department stores (owner of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue), and the liberal Starbucks coffee company.
Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Riley said the coffee chain is “looking into additional opportunities to have more gender-neutral signage in our restrooms where jurisdictions allow it,” USA Today reported. But Starbucks doesn’t have dressing rooms in their small coffee-to-go outlets.
But USA Today was unable to find any other retailer willing to confirm a policy for or against mixed-sex bathrooms.
Breitbart asked retailers such as Walmart, Sears, and K-Mart if they had any specific transgender bathroom policies. None replied to the queries left with their public relations departments.
Of course, many corporations have LGBT polices, such as those Target celebrates.
Hormel foods, a meat processor, has celebrated itself for its LGBT policies, crowning itself the “best place to work for LGBT equality.”
Fitness gym operator Planet Fitness has also in the past announced its own LGBT-friendly policies by insisting that men can use the women’s locker rooms. The company has already acted on its policy, as well. As The Federalist notes, in 2015 the fitness giant actually revoked the membership of a woman who complained about a man who insisted on using the women’s locker room.
But, with so few others standing up with Target, it appears that most American retailers are hoping the whole discussion just fades away so that they don’t have to take a public stance.
Target Corp’s stock price has fallen from $83.98 on the day the new policy was announced, to $75.70 on May 12. That’s a loss of roughly $4.5 billion in stock value.
Target’s CEO Brian Cornell is trying to reduce the damage. On May 11, for example, he promised that every store would have a family restroom.
We’re committed over the next few months, to make sure every one of our stores has that option, because we want to make sure that our guests be welcomed in our stores. But if there’s a question of safety, I can tell you and others, our focus on safety is unwavering, and we want to make sure we provide a welcoming environment for all our guests, one that’s safe, one that’s comfortable.
But he declined to reverse his decision to impose mixed-sex changing rooms on middle-class families, and he continued to reassure progressives and Wall Street experts that Target’s pro-transgender open-door policy is a good idea.
Target has done itself a lot of harm in the highly competitive retail sector, Stone insisted. More than one million people have signed the American Family Association petition against the mixed-sex bathroom and changing-room policy — and another 10 million Americans may know about and disagree with the company policy.
“What is really going to be important is to see if [another retail] brand comes out and openly welcomes all these disenchanted Target customers. Someone is going to have to say ‘We welcome you. If you’re not happy at Target, come over and because we welcome you here,’” Stone averred.
“If someone does that, they will be able to secure those customers” the activist added.
Companies need to do what they can to bolster their revenues, Stone concluded, because the retail sector is already very competitive and is losing customers to the online shopping. For example, the Sports Authority chain is failing. Just in California, Walmart, Macy’s, Sears, Kmart, JCPenney, and The Gap are closing stories in 2016, according to a retail industry website.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com