Target has lost more than $11 billion in market value since the start of a boycott over LGBT Pride merchandise that included trans pride items for children and items designed by a self-described Satanist.
Prior to the controversy, Target's stock closed at $160.96 a share, giving it a market capitalization of $74.3 billion, according to the New York Post. On Tuesday, it was trading at $135 a share and had a market capitalization of $62.5 billion.
The controversy began in mid-May when social media users noted that some LGBT Pride items were designed by British designer Eric Carnell and his company, Abprallen. Carnell openly calls himself a Satanist, although he says he views Satan as a metaphor. Another controversial item: a "tuck-friendly" women's swimsuit for biological males who identify as female but who have not had surgery.
Target said it was pulling some of the items, although it did not say which ones. Carnell, though, said his merchandise was among those no longer being sold.
"Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and wellbeing while at work," Target said in a statement. "Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior."
Businessman Kevin O'Leary, known for his appearance on Shark Tank, said Target had made a huge mistake by taking sides in a culture war. He pointed to Bud Light, whose parent company lost billions after a separate boycott by conservatives.
"When Bud happened, I can't believe that boards didn't wake up to that decimation market cap… Budweiser was the American beer. It took decades to build that brand and they blew it up in 30 hours," O'Leary told Fox News.
Companies must avoid politics, he said.
"Let me give you an example," O'Leary said. "Do you ever hear a CEO that represents a company ever talking about abortion? Never. Because that is an issue that will never be resolved. It's a personal issue, it's a family issue, it's a religious issue. It's partisan forever. You don't touch it. Same thing with politics, same thing with gender identity. Everybody has a personal opinion about it. When you actually get involved in a fight like that, you lose 50 percent of your constituency."
Target also donates to GLSEN, an LGBT group that has taken controversial stances on several issues, including recommending that schools allow biological boys who identify as female to be allowed to participate in girls' sports.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.