Target’s Billion Dollar Gamble on HB2

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Target’s Billion Dollar Gamble on HB2

Much has been said about the economic impact of the bill formerly known as HB2 on North Carolina. Businesses turned away, the NCAA drew a line in the sand, and all was a disaster. Or so that’s how it was portrayed. With the “repeal” in-place, we shall see what the future holds for NC’s already fast-growing economy.

But what about the impact of HB2 on businesses? Target Stores have found out a tough lesson. Social issues are perhaps not the best subject for major chains to take a stand on. The Wall Street Journal reported that a single blog post, not approved by Target Execs, has sent this massive retail store in a quarter over quarter decline.

After an internal review, executives determined the negative publicity was the tipping point for some stores, especially in the South, that were already not inviting or competitive enough to give shoppers a reason to come back. Target has now embarked on a multibillion-dollar revamp.

Target LossThat’s right, Target has not only lost a substantial amount of sales for their stance on the North Carolina “bathroom bill,” but they are having to pump billions into a revamp to fix their image. This easily puts Target’s cost at around half of the quoted loss to North Carolina’s economy. So why isn’t that making more headlines?

Situations like this are never positive for either side, and that’s apparent with the losses to private businesses and the potential expansion to the NC state economy. If it’s strictly about principles, then the money doesn’t matter, and Target won’t care, and NC wouldn’t care about the loss to the economy. If it is about the money, then we need to have a broader discussion. However:

Chains such as Target have customers with perspectives from across the spectrum. In a February online survey by consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates of 2,500 people, nearly two-thirds of respondents said businesses should stay out of politics.

Like everything else, it’s probably somewhere in-between principles and pocketbooks. Most people just don’t want to have their toilet paper purchase politicized.


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