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Target sales weaken, but CEO says it's not due to transgender bathroom boycott

Target's sales and shares are reportedly going down, although the retail giant maintains that it is not, for the most part, due to the boycott lodged against its transgender-friendly bathroom policy.

(REUTERS/BEN NELMS)People are seen in front of a Target store in Delta, British Columbia January 15, 2015.

"You've heard us talk over the years about our commitment to diversity and inclusion," Target CEO Brian Cornell said during a media call on May 18, as quoted by Fortune. "To date we have not seen a material or measurable impact on our business, just a handful of stores across the country have seen some activity and have been impacted."

The Christian Post says that the plunge in the price of Target shares is the first such decline since Cornell held the post of CEO two years ago. Quoting The Wall Street Journal, CP reports that shares were priced at $68 as of Wednesday, off by 7.6 percent. And while the company's stores that have been open for a year or more had a sales incease of 1.2 percent during the February to April quarter, this is still short of the annual target of 1.5 to 2.5 percent.

According to the report, Cornell claims that the cause of the decline is "an increasingly volatile consumer environment," citing Macy's, Nordstrom, and other retail companies also experiencing losses. Fortune, meanwhile, says that the company claims that the dip is due to many factors, including skittish customers and the cool, damp weather where some of their stores are located.

"We're approaching our business with appropriate caution as sales trends at Target and many of our key competitors (have) weakened," Cornell said, according to Reuters.

Reuters reported that the company's outlook for comparable sales would be somewhere between flat to 2 percent down in the second quarter, while still remaining positive that they would be able to meet their earnings outlook of $1 to $1.20 per share before special items. Its net income reportedly went down from $635 million the previous year to $632 million.

Since Target announced in April that transgenders can use their stores' restrooms and fitting rooms consistent with their gender identity rather than biological sex, the American Family Association had spearheaded a boycott. The boycott had thus far garnered 1.25 million signatures from people who pledge not to buy at Target until the policy is changed.

The YouGov BrandIndex data, as reported by Business Insider, shows that, after the boycott, 36 percent of consumers consider buying something the next time they shop at Target, a huge decline from the 42 percent prior to the boycott.

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