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Target slashes the number of stores carrying Pride collection after last year's backlash

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Target slashes the number of stores carrying Pride collection after last year's backlash
  • Target plans to dramatically scale back its Pride celebration this year.
  • LGBTQ-themed merchandise will only be in select stores, rather than nationwide, the company said.

Target plans to significantly reduce the number of its stores selling Pride merchandise after facing intense backlash and calls for a boycott last year.

Only about half of the retailer's 2,000 stores will carry LGBTQ-themed merchandise, Bloomberg first reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

"We will offer a collection of products for Pride, including adult apparel, home products, food and beverage," the company told Business Insider. "These items, starting at $3, will be available in select stores and on"

The company also said it was committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community "during Pride Month and year-round," hosting internal programs and a presence at Pride events across the county.

The move is a sharp departure from prior years, in which Target featured Pride displays prominently at all of its US stores.

That all changed last year when Target faced backlash from conservatives over its Pride range, which included slogan tote bags and sweaters as well as transgender-friendly swimsuits.

The retailer said some people had made "threats" impacting workers' safety and CEO Brian Cornell said its call centers had received "high volumes of angry, abusive and threatening calls."

In response, Target pulled products from the sales floor and reduced the size of Pride displays, or moved them to quieter areas of the store.

In particular, products related to transgender people had been removed from stores and online, workers in Florida and Texas told BI. Other LGBTQ+ Target workers told BI that the company's response to the backlash left them feeling alienated.

An internal email sent to Target's Pride council Friday morning obtained by BI said additional details would be released on May 14.

"Unfortunately, the opportunity to give you a preview was interrupted by some external media coverage," the email said. "We hoped you'd be one of the first audiences to hear about our plans."

A source on the council told BI that the employee group was previously much more involved in highlighting vendor partners for Pride.

Three LGBTQ+ designers who were prominently featured in prior years' collaborations told BI they have not been invited to participate in this year's collection.

"I've not heard from Target since last year," said Erik Carnell, the trans artist behind Abprallen. "I don't expect to hear from them again."

Target CFO Michael Fiddleke told investors last summer that the reaction to its Pride range had contributed to the retailer's first quarterly sales decline in six years.

The company is also facing a lawsuit and a shareholder proposal from a conservative group that claims Target's support for LGBTQ groups damages shareholder value.

Bud Light was also targeted by conservatives last year after partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, and some Starbucks workers said the coffee chain had banned them from displaying Pride decor, including flags. A Starbucks spokesperson told Business Insider at the time that there had been no changes to its LGBTQ+ policies.

If you work for Target and would like to share your perspective, please contact Dominick Reuter via email or text/call/Signal at 646-768-4750. Responses will be kept confidential, and Business Insider strongly recommends using a personal email and a non-work device when reaching out.