Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack said it's "too early to tell" how the company's decision to pull assault rifles from stores will affect the company's financial performance over the long term, but it won't be good. The Pittsburgh-based company was one of the first major retailers to take a firm stance on gun age restrictions, raising the minimum age for purchase to 21, following a deadly Valentine's Day shooting in Parkland, Florida. Walmart, Kroger and other retailers followed shortly thereafter with similar decisions.
"The announcement we made two weeks ago is not going to be positive from a traffic and sales standpoint," Stack told analysts and investors Tuesday during a conference call.
Total Retail's Take: I give Stack and Dick's board of directors credit for taking a stand on the divisive issue of gun control — whether you agree with their position or not — knowing full well that doing so would adversely affect its business. Today's consumers are increasingly looking for the brands and retailers they shop with to take a stance on social and political issues, as this is one of many factors they consider when making purchase decisions. A recent study from Sprout Social found that nearly two-thirds of consumers responded that it was either “Somewhat Important” or “Very Important” for brands to take a stand on social/political issues, with only 11 percent saying it was “Not at All Important.” It's easy to speak up and make business decisions when there's little on the line — is anyone really against retailers being more environmentally sustainable, for example — but it's a lot harder when your actions could alienate customers and have negative consequences on the company's bottom line.