Target has removed a kids’ ‘Batgirl’ themed T-shirt from sale after customers complained it was sexist, but the retailer is now facing backlash from angry shoppers who had promised the shirt to their children.
A customer posted to Target’s Facebook page on Tuesday night to complain about the girl’s t-shirt which lists a ‘Batgirl’ to-do list that puts ‘Dryclean Cape’ and ‘Wash Batmobile’ ahead of ‘Fight Crime’.
Target then apologised for the shirt and said in a statement that they have removed it from sale.
But the move has angered a group of shoppers who are “highly offended” by the decision to remove the product, upset by the brand’s “political correctness” and decision to fold to a group of upset parents.
“I am highly offended by the decision,” said one shopper.
“Do you decide what all girls/females wear or just certain ones??? How dare you make that decision for me, where are my rights to buy that shirt?”
Target customer service have been responding to angered shoppers on Facebook this morning, confirming the shirt is no longer available for sale online or in store. Many shoppers have complained that they either promised to buy the shirt for their children, or had it on lay-by and were now unsure if they could make the purchase.
“Thanks for reaching out to us. We appreciate you stopping by to share your thoughts with us today,” was the standard response from the Target team.
“My family, friends and myself will all be boycotting Target until you bring the batgirl shirt back!” wrote another shopper, while others asked for it to be made in adult sizes.
Many social media complaints pointed out there was not enough super hero themed girls clothing on offer in the first place and it was unfair for the retailer to cut this option, calling for more “backbone” from the brand.
Michelle Gamble of Marketing Angels says it is important for Target to keep driving home that the decision was made to avoid the view of gender stereotypes.
“I mean, men drop off stuff at the dry cleaners, they also wash their cars. You could have had a boy’s shirt that said exactly the same thing,” she says.
“But now Target would have to tell customers that the reason for the removal was that they take their customers seriously and the brand doesn’t want to be seen to perpetuate any kind of gender stereotypes.”
Some customers will always be upset by decisions that a company makes, and it is important to make note of that, says Gamble.
“Acknowledge that it’s disappointing,” she says.
“Maybe offer a gift voucher or something to people who are upset, but ultimately you have to say ‘it’s not good for the brand to be seen to be promoting a negative stereotype’”.
A spokesperson for Target told SmartCompany the decision to remove the shirt was made “after listening to our customers”. Despite the social media feedback, there is no plan to reverse the decision and it will stay out of stores.