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Amid Smash-and-Grab Epidemic, California Focuses on Pushing ‘Gender-Neutral’ Toys

Amid Smash-and-Grab Epidemic, California Focuses on Pushing ‘Gender-Neutral’ Toys

Toys line the shelves of a store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Cece Woods

Cece Woods

12/8/2023

Updated: 12/11/2023

Commentary
As retailers battle big losses from the smash-and-grab robbery epidemic, a new California law will go into effect in the new year requiring department stores with 500 or more employees to have a “gender-neutral” section for children.
Assembly Bill 1084, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021, applies to retailers that sell toys or child care items designed to facilitate sleep, feed children, help children relax, or “help children with sucking or teething.” The age range targeted in the legislation is 12 years old and younger.
The latest legislation is yet one more thing added to a list of costly woes faced by California retailers, who have already been plagued by diminished returns as a result of an increase in crime.
The bill would require those who don’t already carry gender-neutral items to alter or add to their inventory, as operating costs continue to soar as a result of rampant theft by individuals and organized crime rings.

Retail’s Harsh Reality

Shoplifting spiked by 109 percent in Los Angeles in the first half of 2023 compared with 2022, according to a new study by the Council on Criminal Justice. Los Angeles has had the highest increase since 2019 of any city in the United States except for New York.
Critics attribute the rise to George Soros-backed Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s pro-criminal policies, such as no-cash bail.
San Francisco experienced similar retail woes, as shoplifting spiked in late 2021 and early 2022 before Soros-backed District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled by voters in June 2022. Shoplifting has since dropped back to pre-pandemic levels, with a 35 percent decrease in the first half of 2023 compared with 2022.
However, many retailers and department stores were forced to permanently close California locations, including Target, which closed three stores in the Bay Area alone.
Downtown San Francisco continues to be in dire straits.
Union Square has historically been a major commercial hub in the heart of the city, but lately, many well-known chains have announced exits from the area, including CB2, Anthropologie, and Nordstrom.
“A growing number of retailers and businesses are leaving the area due to the unsafe conditions for customers, retailers and employees, coupled with the fact that these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area,” a Westfield mall spokesperson said in a statement.
Those who have chosen to continue to fight to do business in California amid the crime wave must comply with the state’s new law requiring gender-neutral children’s sections by Jan. 1 or face penalties of $250 to $500 for each infraction.
Toys line the shelves of a store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Toys line the shelves of a store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Pride Pushback

Target stores attempted to jump ahead of the gender-neutral curve starting in 2015 when the store removed gender-based labeling in several departments—including toys, bedding, and entertainment.
In May, the mega-retailer faced significant backlash, including threats of violence against employees and burning down stores, for selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits and pro-transgender T-shirts in support of LGBT Pride month.
Following the public outrage, Target issued a statement announcing that it was removing some of the 2023 Pride season items “that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
As a result of the Pride pushback, Target’s share price took a deep plunge, devaluing the company by $10 billion in a little more than a week.
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Cece Woods

Cece Woods

Author

Cece Woods is editor-in-chief of The Current Report. Ms. Woods also started The Local Malibu in 2014, and founded Malibu-based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag. She has reported extensively on hot topics such as the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, wildfires, and local public corruption.

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