On April 19, retail giant Target stepped into the fray that has erupted over transgender Americans and which public restrooms they should use, by announcing that everyone is welcome to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity in Target stores. In a statement on their website, Target said:
In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.
This set off a new campaign of outrage on the right. The allegedly Christian bigots at the American Family Association (AFA) organized a boycott of the retailer soon after the announcement, and the petition on their website has now passed a million signatures.
On April 29, the Family Policy Institute of Washington announced that the boycott was having its intended effect, claiming that since the company came out in support of transgender rights its stock price had fallen by $4.74 per share.
Amid the turmoil surrounding the new policy and the immediate abuse of it in Missouri, the company’s stock fell from $84.10 per share on April 19 to roughly $79.36 as of Friday morning. That loss of $4.74 per share, if constant, would represent a corporate loss of over $2.5 billion.
Are they telling you the whole story? Of course not!
Target’s stock price did drop after the announcement of their transgender policy, falling from $83.98 per share on April 19 to $82.33 on April 22. But it then recovered a bit and closed at $83.29 on April 27. It then went on a downhill slide, closing at $79.52 on April 29. But here’s what the AFA and their allies won’t tell you: stocks just ended their worst week since February. Yes, the price of Target stock has dropped, but so has the price of Walmart and Sears/K-Mart, two big Target competitors. Target’s stock price remains higher than that of Walmart, the chain boycott leaders are urging their supporters to patronize in place of Target. So to claim that your boycott is hurting Target’s stock at the end of a week where stocks were down in general is like doing a rain dance when you see the first flash of lightning, then saying you made it rain.
The effects of a boycott are usually first felt in sales. And market analysts aren’t concerned about Target. Efraim Levy, who covers Target for S&P Global Market Intelligence says:
I don’t think, at this point, it’s going to be an impact on Target’s financial results. Maybe it will be an impact on what their policy is, which could ignite a bigger debate, but at this point, I don’t think that many people are going to stop buying at Target because of bathroom policy.
So the AFA and associated groups can go ahead and have their little boycott if it makes them feel good. Sane Americans will continue shopping at Target, and using the restrooms in Target stores with the same transgender people with whom they have been sharing the restrooms all along. A few months from now the right will have another non-issue to freak out about, Target’s bathroom policy will be the same, and all the “Christian” boycott will have accomplished is earning Target some free advertising.
Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images