Dick’s Sporting Goods was one of the first retailers to take action against guns in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting last year, and it doesn’t seem as though declining sales has forced the company to rethink its decision. Sales dropped for the outdoor store after the company announced they would no longer sell AR15-style rifles and took the step of removing guns entirely from 10 of its stores in 2018. But this week, the company announced it would go even further, removing gun sales from 125 of its 700 nation-wide retail establishments.
CEO Ed Stack has been upfront with shareholders about the effect his anti-gun policies have had on sales at both Dick’s and subsidiary Field and Stream stores, but he’s maintained that they are only part of the overall picture of decline. In a conference call to investors on Tuesday, Stack insisted that sales actually improved at the 10 Dick’s stores where guns were no longer sold, which forms the fiscal justification with moving forward on a larger moratorium on sales. The announcement coincided with a 11% drop in the stock price.
According to the Wall Street Journal, gun sales in the 10 test stores were replaced by “high-margin, faster-selling categories such as licensed sports gear and outdoor recreation equipment.” This strategy will likely form the blueprint for the 125 additional stores where Stack says guns will no longer be available.
All that said, the company’s management has been clear from the beginning that their stance against guns has nothing to do with lagging hunting sales and everything to do with a progressive agenda. They made a public announcement after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in which they vowed to be part of the “solution.”
“We at DICK’s Sporting Goods are deeply disturbed and saddened by the tragic events in Parkland. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones,” the company tweeted last February. “But thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organizing and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country. We have heard you. The nation has heard you.”
It may be too early to name Dick’s Sporting Goods as a chief representative of the “Get Woke, Go Broke” adage, but things aren’t looking great. Sales are down 4% this year, and even the company’s CEO recognizes that pro-gun customers choosing to shop elsewhere are largely to blame for the decline. At this point, the company may have only two choices: Abandon guns entirely and hope for the best…or recognize that their decision to take guns off the shelves won’t save a single life and, indeed, will only drive principled customers to take their business to another retailer. It seems they’re leaning towards the former.
Well, it’s a free market. Vote with your wallet.