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About 1.4 million people signed a pledge to boycott Target stores over the company’s transgender bathroom and fitting room policy. Target’s same-store sales during the same quarter were down for the first time in two years. Is there a connection?
Target officials say no, and they have been giving other reasons ever since they announced on Aug. 17 that foot traffic had fallen 2.2 percent and comparable store sales were down 1.1 percent in the May to July period. Target says sluggish grocery sales, a clumsy transition of Target’s pharmacies to CVS, and falling sales of Apple products were to blame. Retail analysts also point to competition from Amazon.com.
But Walmart also competes against Amazon, and it had its strongest quarter in four years: Foot traffic was up 1.2 percent and comparable store sales were up 1.6 percent.
It is impossible to know whether Walmart gained substantial foot traffic from boycotters avoiding Target, but Target did announce it would spend $20 million to add private family bathrooms to its stores that do not have one for the sake of customers who won’t use transgender bathrooms. Target gave no indication it would consider changing its overall policy on transgender bathrooms and fitting rooms.