Cash registers at Target

Changes at Target hit the mark

It’s great to see that one of the largest retailers in the US, Target, have acknowledged customer concerns and decided to move away from gender based signs.

In an official statement released on their website on Friday they say:

Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender….we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

The statement goes on to say that signs in the bedding area will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. Reference to gender will also be removed in the toy aisles, including the use of coloured paper on the back walls of shelves. The changes are scheduled to happen over the next few months.

The decision comes a couple of months after a tweet by @abianne, which showed a photograph of a sign that offered a choice of ‘Building Sets’ or ‘Girls’ Building Sets’ and said ‘Don’t do this, @Target’, went viral.

A retail shift

Fourteen UK retailers have agreed to drop boys and girls signs since our campaign began in late 2012. It’s heartening to see that stores in the US are now following suit.

This change is part of an overall shift in retailers’ approach. Our research found a 60% drop in the use of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs in UK toy stores between 2012 and 2013, and a 46% drop in the use of gender categories for toys on websites between 2012 and 2014.

In the UK, of all the retailers who have agreed to remove ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ signs since our campaign began, not one has gone back on it, so it has obviously had no adverse effects on their business. Customers clearly do not need gender labels in stores.

Not only are ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ signs unnecessary, they usually promote limiting stereotypes and contribute to a culture in which children who don’t fit others ideas of a ‘typical’ girl or or boy are bullied. If we want all children be valued equally, marketing that pushes limiting gender roles onto them needs to end. Find out more about why it matters.

(Header Image: “Cash Registers” by Marlith – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – )

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