Kohl’s Is Latest to Face Potential Boycott Over Controversial ‘Pride Month’ Collection for Babies

Originally published May 29, 2023 2:00 pm PDT

Kohl’s, the retail giant, finds itself in hot water as it faces a potential boycott akin to the one recently experienced by Target and Bud Light.

This controversy comes as the company introduced a range of merchandise as part of its “pride month” collection.

The items which triggered the outcry include LGBT-themed onesies designed for infants and a rainbow-colored tutu, among other products bearing the slogan “Love is Love,” as outlined on the company’s website.

The controversy intensified as social media users began sharing more from Kohl’s pride collection, including a “Baby Sonoma Community Pride Bodysuit set” specifically tailored for 3-month, 6-month, and 9-month-old infants.

A noteworthy design element in some of these products is the inclusion of the rainbow flag enriched with transgender colors.

The dissent grew louder when Benny Johnson, a well-known conservative influencer, questioned on Twitter the necessity of Kohl’s selling “Pride Merch” for babies as young as 3 months old.

A flurry of comments followed this, with some individuals urging others to join in boycotting Kohl’s.

This backlash parallels a wave of criticism that’s currently aimed at companies like Target, Bud Light, and North Face, who stand accused of furthering an LGBT agenda.

Meanwhile, Michel Doukeris, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, responded to boycott calls in a Financial Times interview, attributing the backlash to “misinformation” and “confusion.”

In order to distance his brand from the controversy, Doukeris mentioned that only a single can of beer was produced featuring Mulvaney’s image.

Target, another retail chain implicated in the controversy, saw its stocks plummet more than 10 percentage points since mid-May, falling from $160.96 to $138.93 per share, as of Friday, May 26.

This prompted the company to remove some of its “pride” merchandise, including LGBT-themed onesies for infants and items that educate children on the use of transgender pronouns, following a $9 billion decrease in market value.

Over the past year, Kohl’s Corporation experienced a significant stock drop, over 50 percent, primarily due to a decline in consumer spending and other financial issues.

By June 2022, its shares peaked at around $46, however, they have since dwindled to approximately $20 per share as of May 26.

In a recent conversation with analysts, Kohl’s leadership—CEO Tom Kingsbury and CFO Jill Timm—acknowledged the need to regain customer confidence.

Kingsbury highlighted macroeconomic challenges, such as persistent inflation, stating, “the middle-income customer is being squeezed,” expressing hope that Kohl’s can once again appeal to these shoppers.

This statement was made prior to the current controversy.

However, the company’s leaders announced earlier this month that despite the overall downturn in the retail market, Kohl’s managed to post a profit in the most recent quarter.

Like Target, Kohl’s is owned by financial asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard.