First, Target’s electronics sector in general was down by double digits. Apple products make up only one third of electronics. By virtue of the fact that iPhones cost a whole lot more than alarm clocks and headphones, it makes sense that Apple products would be a large part of the overall electronics decrease. But even so, two thirds of the decrease in electronics had nothing to do with Apple.
So what really happened to Target? Well, the period that they're blaming on Apple is April through June. So did anything of significance happen in April at Target? Oh yeah, they came out with a transgender-friendly restroom policy that said anyone can use any restroom regardless of gender. Almost immediately over a million people signed a pledge not to shop at Target. Target goes down and Walmart goes up.
There’s an old trick we use in finance to provide color on statistics when you either don’t know the driving factors or don’t want to reveal the truth. Here is what you do. Instead of offering commentary on what the real drivers are, you simply state a percentage movement. This gives the illusion of answering the question without really answering it.
This is exactly what Target did. Instead of admitting that they made an unpopular decision that hurt business, they simply stated that sales of Apple products were down 20%. Never mind that people simply decided to buy their iPhones and iPads elsewhere.
Having said all this, I do think that the iPhone may be on track to experience its first ever year-on-year decrease. But the fact that sales at Target were down in all categories in conjunction with major nationwide boycotts leads me to believe that this wound was more self-inflicted than the result of an iPhone sales collapse. Further, Target amended their restroom policy within days of reporting a disappointing Q2. Coincidence? I think not.