In the Midst of the Battle Over Bathrooms, Is Target Tanking? May 3, 2016

In the Midst of the Battle Over Bathrooms, Is Target Tanking?

The Boycott Target Pledge now has more than 1.1 million signers. That must mean business is getting pretty terrible at Target, right? The prominent conservative site RedState does allege just that, claiming that Target stock is “in the toilet” (geddit?) and that the retailer is getting its comeuppance for its “stupid, thoughtless corporate overtures to liberal outrage.”


RedState writer Caleb Howe harrumphs,

“Corporate America, learn from Target’s mistakes. Just because the self-righteous celebrities and self-indulgent rich people like Donald Trump that you hang around with make you feel socially pressured to cater to leftist ideas doesn’t mean you should. They may seem loud, but the rest of America can be a lot louder when we want to be. About 2.5 billion times as loud.”

That’s a reference to Target’s stock value supposedly standing to lose at least $2.5 billion due to the boycott and the negative publicity.

Other rightwing websites — Hot Air and Truth Revolt and Breitbart and so on — all claim the same thing: the people have spoken, and Target’s stock price is suffering.

Nick Gillespie at Reason isn’t buying it.

The stock closed yesterday at $80.12 a share [up 85 cents since the previous trading day], so maybe people really don’t give a shit (har har!) about bathroom stuff. Indeed, here’s a two-year trend line of the stock’s price, just to give a larger context to what every dummy investor knows. Which is that prices go up and down a lot and only a fool mistakes short-term fluctuations for the true value of much of anything, but especially a stock in the retail industry.


I next looked at what market analysts are telling investors. Turns out that of the 27 analysts who cover Target Corp stock, only two give it a sell rating. It seems to me that that’s hardly an indicator of a looming sell-off panic; nor does it indicate a long-term anticipated slide in stock value. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Any damage to Target’s bottom line from the promised boycott should be at least somewhat lessened by the scores of Americans who agree with the company’s bathrooms policy, and who have been pledging to shop at Target more frequently from now on.

Also, previous conservative outrage about Target — last summer, when the company ditched gender segregation in its toy and bedding aisles — had zero measurable effect on revenues or stock price.

As Horus Gilgamesh of Patheos’ Able to Choose blog wrote last week,

[M]any of these potty-shy petitioners also promised to boycott Target over [its] support of marriage equality and employment equality over the last few years. Why the need for a new boycott? Apparently, in practice, one’s deeply held religious convictions are no match for affordable housewares.

Time will tell — but I doubt that, once this tempest stops raging in the Target teapot, we’ll see a decimated company.

(Image via Northfoto /

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