Target phases out gender-based signage in toy and children’s bedding departments

The Target Corporation announced Aug. 7 that in response to guest requests, it’s phasing out gender-based signage in the children’s bedding and toy departments at all of its 1,800 stores.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder told the American Media Institute she is not aware of any other retailers, such as Walmart or Kohl’s, phasing out gender-based signage.

Walmart and Kohl’s did not return phone calls or emails from the American Media Institute seeking comment.

“This is in direct response from our guests,” Snyder said. “When we announced the change, we knew there would be differing opinions but the vast majority of our guests have responded positively.”

When asked if the change was in direct response to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriages and the popularity of the transgender lifestyle Snyder said, “I wouldn’t say this is in response to transgenderism but rather it’s about us pausing and saying, ‘is this change necessary’?”

Snyder said the main purpose of the change is to make Target shoppers feel welcome and offer them a fun shopping experience.

She added there are no plans, nor has there been any discussion, of making any changes to the chain’s soft lines division that include the men’s, women’s, boy’s and girl’s departments.

The company said in a statement posted to its website that it never wants its guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented. Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not.

The statement went on to explain guests have told Target that sometimes signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. Target also acknowledged shopping preferences and needs change and, in some departments, such as Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

The social media response to the announcement on Target’s website were mixed.

Poster Leah Mosher said, “Yay, great job, Target! It's about time we stop telling children what toys they should play with based solely on which set of genitals they were born with.”

While poster Eric-Christine Mossman said, “Our family categorically disagrees with this decision. The fact that Target has made this a public announcement appears more as a social-economic move to appeal to a certain change in American culture.”

Conversely, there has been no reaction either way from Wall Street. According to www.marketwatch.com, Target’s stock closed Friday at $78.98, opened today at $79.45 and closed at $78.97.