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Walmart promotes Pride merchandise as Target scales back following backlash

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Walmart promoted its new Pride apparel on social media ahead of Pride month on Saturday, writing on Instagram, “Not just a slogan. #PrideAlways is a reminder to lead with love.​”

The company’s promotion comes just weeks after Target said its Pride collection would only be available in “select stores” following a major backlash by conservatives last year. 

Target has had June Pride Month displays with rainbow and LGBTQ+ messaging for years, but the addition of products such as female-style swimsuits that can be used to “tuck” male genitalia outraged many consumers last year. The backlash was so severe that an insider told Fox News Digital at the time that some stores were told to relocate their Pride month displays to avoid sparking a “Bud Light situation.”

Along with Target, Bud Light faced a conservative backlash last year after featuring a transgender influencer in an ad. 

TARGET LOSES $9 BILLION AMID PRIDE MERCHANDISING CONTROVERSY

A pride flag held by Walmart workers at a parade in Ontario 2022 next to a store in Miami last year. Walmart promoted Pride merchandise on its social media on Saturday.  (Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Target also saw a sales slump following the backlash. 

Target CEO Brian Cornell admitted to Fox News Digital last year “an ever-changing operating and social environment” taught the company a lesson

“Clearly the Pride month backlash by consumers had a huge effect. I mean, particularly on sales,” Brenberg said. 

Walmart’s new “Pride Always” collection promo includes products like a notebook that says “beyond gender” a tote bag that says “totes gay,” a fanny pack with “I heart gay people” on it and rainbow-colored products like a pool floatie and an apron. 

WALMART’S PRIDE MERCHANDISING UNCHANGED AS TARGET SEES BACKLASH OVER NEW ITEMS

Target Pride merchandise

Signage for Target Corp.’s “#TakePride” initiative sits above products displayed for sale at a company store in Chicago in 2016. (Getty Images / Getty Images)

“While I was creating my collection, it was important to me for it to be positive and uplifting,” Bianca of Bianca Designs said in the promo of her collection. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART INC. 65.38 +0.54 +0.83%
TGT TARGET CORP. 145.15 +0.73 +0.51%

Amid the Target backlash, Walmart told FOX Business last year it had no plans to change its LGBTQ+ merchandise. 

“I think we have merchandise that we sell all year that supports different groups,” the company’s Chief Merchandising Officer Latriece Watkins said in response to a question about the Target controversy made at the company’s associate and shareholder week attended by FOX Business. “I’d say in this particular case, we haven’t changed anything in our assortment.”

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Walmart U.S. CEO Doug McMillon told shareholders last year that the company does not “wake up in the morning wanting to go and make social and political statements,” in response to a question about the company’s engagement with public commentary. 

“We’re [a] retailer,” he added. “We want everybody to feel comfortable shopping with us…and we want everybody to feel comfortable and excited about working at Walmart.”

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FOX Business has reached out to Walmart for comment. 

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