Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy slammed Target, claiming it “spit in the face” of its customers by releasing “PRIDE,” an LGBTQ-friendly line featuring “tuck-friendly” swimwear and apparel including pro-gay messages for kids.
Ramaswamy told Fox News that Target — which reported a $9 billion loss in market value since the controversy over its Pride collection erupted — that the loss is not the result of a boycott.
“That’s not a boycott, that’s just a response to a company that chooses to spit in their face. I have no doubt that many companies do find wokeness to be a good short-term trick,” he said Wednesday, according to Fox.
Ramaswamy added that “if a company makes a conscious business decision to alienate a significant portion of its customer base, then it’s totally fair game for its customers to respond accordingly.”
Target’s “wokeness” that the Republican presidential candidate was referencing came in the form of “tuck-friendly” women’s swimwear.
The suits offer extra fabric in the crotch area, allowing trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts.
Other clothes in the Pride collection are designed for children, including T-shirts that say “Pride Adult Drag Queen ‘Katya,’” “Trans people will always exist!” and “Girls Gays Theys.”
A week ago Wednesday, before the row over the LGBTQ apparel began, Target’s stock closed at $160.96 a share, giving the big-box chain a market capitalization of $74.3 billion.
As of Thursday afternoon trading, shares of the company were down 2.7% at $139.24 — capping a weeklong tumble that has shrunk the “cheap chic” discount retailer’s value to $64.25 billion.
That amounts to a 12% drop, resulting in an eye-popping $9 billion loss in market value in the one-week time frame.
Target has since said it was pulling some of the Pride items from its shelves, citing “threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” though it was unclear which specific clothing items would be removed.
Last week, Target CEO Brian Cornell dismissed the uproar over the retailer’s new line, saying the products are good for business and “the right thing for society.”
Ramaswamy, the author of “Woke, Inc.,” disagreed, saying wokeness is “bad for companies and society at large in the long run.”
Since jumping on the Pride Month bandwagon, Target has “put a target on its back from its base of consumers,” Ramaswamy added. “Just ask Budweiser how that worked out for them,” he said.
Budweiser, part of Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch’s portfolio, is also suffering profit losses in the wake of Bud Light’s poorly received partnership with trans social media star Dylan Mulvaney.
Bud Light, once America’s most popular beer, was down 24.6% for the week ended May 13 compared to a year ago — slightly worse than the 23.6% dip it suffered a week earlier, according to Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ research.
Budweiser, last year’s No. 7 beer with more than $1.8 billion in sales, meanwhile, saw a staggering 9.7% drop in sales in each of the two most recent weeks.
Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra, which was the No. 3 beer with more than $3.3 billion in sales in 2022, saw a 2.9% dip in sales the week ending May 13 versus a year ago, Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ data revealed.
And the beer maker’s Busch Light brand also saw a 6.8% dip compared to 0.3% decline the previous week, while Natural Light sales were down by 2.8% in the week ended May 13 compared to a 2.5% decline the previous week.
In Anheuser-Busch’s latest scramble to recover from the controversy, it has been offering generous rebates in honor of Memorial Day, under which customers who purchase a 15-pack or larger of Bud Light, Budweiser, Budweiser Select or Budweiser Select 55 will receive a $15 rebate.
For reference, a 15-pack of Bud Light is listed for $12.99 on Target’s website, the same price as a 15-pack of Budweiser.
The rebate will be paid via a digital prepaid card now through May 31, according to Bud Light’s site. Customers must provide a proof of purchase — an image of the case’s barcode and of their receipt — to get the prepaid card mailed to their home address.
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