This policy does not diminish Target's support of communities. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit — which today equals more than $4 million a week – to local communities. Our company also has many other means through which we support organizations whose programs fall within our corporate giving guidelines. For more information on these guidelines, please pick up the Community Giving brochure in your store's Guest Service area or visit the Community Giving section on Target.com.
how we enforce our policy
To ensure an enjoyable shopping experience in all of our stores, we have taken the following steps to provide a distraction-free shopping environment:
We ask all solicitors and petitioners to respect our policy by ceasing their activities and leaving our property. However, frequently they refuse to comply.
We partner with local law enforcement agencies to assist us in having unwanted solicitors and petitioners removed from our property.
In certain circumstances, we file lawsuits to obtain court orders prohibiting solicitors from returning. This is not a quick process and may not result in the immediate removal of unwanted disturbances.
what you can do
Target firmly believes that our guests should enjoy a distraction-free shopping experience in our stores. If you feel harassed or bothered by a solicitor or petitioner outside a Target store, please alert a store team member. We appreciate your patience and patronage as we continue to do everything we can to provide you with a respectful, distraction-free shopping experience.
To challenge our solicitation policy, solicitors and petitioners sometimes claim a right to gather signatures, solicit donations or engage in other expressive activity in front of a Target store based on Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center, a 1979 decision of the California Supreme Court. The shopping center involved in the Pruneyard case was a large, regional mall with extensive public amenities and common areas for walking and gathering. The court in that case determined that the mall was a public forum because it was the functional equivalent of a traditional town square. As a public forum, the mall was required to permit free speech activities in the common area, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions established by the mall owner.
In the 30 years since Pruneyard was decided, a series of California court cases have examined how the Pruneyard decision applies to the freedom of speech rights of solicitors at "big box" stores. Those cases held that the Pruneyard decision applies only to free speech rights in the common areas of large shopping centers, and that individual retailers—including stand-alone stores and stores located in large shopping centers—may prohibit solicitation. (See, for example, Costco Companies, Inc. v. Gallant 96 Cal. App. 4th 740 (2002), Albertson's v. Young 107 Cal. App. 4th 106 (2003) and Trader Joe's Co. v. Progressive Campaigns, Inc., 73 Cal. App. 4th 425 (1999).).
More recently, a 2007 case called Van v. Target Corp., 155 Cal. App. 4th 1375 (2007) squarely addressed freedom of speech rights at Target stores. In a lawsuit filed against Target, (and also Wal-Mart and Home Depot), the plaintiff, Vernon Van, alleged that these retailers' "no solicitation" policies unlawfully prevented him from gathering signatures in front of store locations. Van argued that the areas outside Target stores were the equivalent of public sidewalks, and that such stores located in large retail developments were the functional equivalent of public forums.
The court rejected Van's argument. It instead held that Target stores are not public forums and that no right to free speech exists outside Target stores, even when stores are part of a larger shopping center. The court noted that unlike the shopping mall in Pruneyard, Target stores do not contain courtyards, plaza or other places designed to encourage patrons to gather or be entertained. Instead of an invitation to congregate on its premises, Target stores offer the public a more limited invitation: to purchase merchandise. The court held that Target's interest in maintaining control over the areas in front of its stores outweighs society's interest in using such areas for expressive activity.
The Van decision makes it clear that Target stores are not within the reach of the Pruneyard decision and that Target does not need to allow people to use its property for expressive activity. Even in shopping malls that are within the reach of the Pruneyard decision, the right under Pruneyard is to use the common areas of the mall, not the area directly outside the Target store entrance. Individuals wishing to use the common areas within shopping malls should address the matter with the shopping mall owner or operator, not with Target.
We will continue to vigorously enforce our solicitation policy in all stores, including California, and do our best to provide our guests with a comfortable, distraction-free shopping experience.
Based on Target's commitment to maintaining a distraction-free shopping experience for our guests, we do not allow Salvation Army bell ringers outside our store nationwide. However, Target proudly supports The Salvation Army, which serves more than 30 million people across the United States each year. Some of our year-round efforts include grants to local chapters, volunteerism and in-kind donations to help those who need it most. Target also partners with The Salvation Army to support its disaster relief efforts in communities across the country.