Target Corporation's stock was downgraded to neutral from overweight Thursday by JPMorgan, which cited "too many concerns" with the retail giant.
Over the past 30 days, Target's stock dropped some 18 percent amid calls for a backlash against the chain in connection to its decision to sell LGBT-themed items and clothes, including onesies for children and books instructing kids to use transgender pronouns. A number of social media users, starting in May, called on others to boycott the company.
“While still positive on a [three-year] basis, [Target] has been giving back share on a [one-year] view, and we believe this share loss could accelerate into back to school and linger into holiday given consumer pressures and recent company controversies,” he wrote. “This could turn [Target’s] traffic negative after an impressive run of 12 consecutive positive quarters.”
And Target could also suffer when student-loan payments are slated to resume, a plan that was announced under the recent House-passed deal to raise the debt ceiling, Horvers wrote. Reports indicated that a pause on student loan payments would end by Aug. 30.
Target, he wrote, "over-indexes to the millennial customer and, should student loan payments come back on, the company is more exposed than others in our coverage,” according to the MarketWatch report.
According to MarketWatch, Target's stock is on its longest losing streak in over 20 years. Shares of Target extended their fall on Thursday, declining 2 percent in morning trading.
Target's decision to remove some "pride" products came weeks after brewer Anheuser-Busch's decision to produce a Bud Light can with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney's face drew widespread backlash on social media. Industry data shows that Bud Light has seen multiple weeks of sales declines in the midst of the boycott.
Other firms, including PetSmart and Kohl's, have also taken flack from conservative commentators over selling Pride Month merchandise, including pro-LGBT slogans. This week, Chick-fil-A, a company that often cites the Christian faith as inspiration, drew backlash when it was discovered that it had hired an executive in charge of "diversity, equity, and inclusion."
Bud Light is still dealing with the fallout over the beer can, which Mulvaney displayed in an Instagram post, igniting backlash. Bud Light’s parent company is tripling its U.S. marketing spending this summer as it tries to restore lost sales, while its CEO, Michel Doukeris, claimed that only "one can" was produced with Mulvaney's face.
In Florida, Disney has been engaged in a legal battle with Gov. Ron DeSantis since expressing opposition to the state’s classroom limits on discussing gender identity and sexual orientation. The massive media conglomerate has also faced boycott calls in recent years.
Recent ActionsTarget, meanwhile, confirmed it is removing some LGBT-themed merchandise after customer backlash last month, although the firm has sold "Pride Month" items in the previous year. But several days ago, the big-box chain removed a number of LGBT-related products and claimed there was an increase in confrontations between customers and employees.
In a statement last week, the Minneapolis-based firm said that due to "volatile circumstances" in its stores, it was removing items at the center of the "most significant confrontational behavior." The company did not elaborate, and it isn't clear whether any police reports were filed.
However, conservative influencers who called for boycotts have argued that such groups are going after children. Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly expressed concern about children being exposed to LGBT-related products being sold at Target, saying, “We don’t need our kids seeing this [expletive] when we walk down the aisle at Target.”
Last week, The Daily Wire's Candace Owens wrote: “Target has been an openly perverted company for a long time—many million times worse than Bud Light and worthy of being boycott[ed] out of existence.”
The Epoch Times approached Target for comment.