Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced that they will completely remove firearms and other hunting products from the shelves of 125 of their stores across the United States, reported USA Today.
This announcement comes amid a large decline in sales and foot traffic over the last year, since around the time the company announced that they would no longer sell “assault-style” weapons. The original announcement caused a major backlash for the sporting goods store, with gun owners making it clear they would no longer shop there.
BREAKING: Dick's Sporting Goods, the nation's largest sporting goods retailer, will stop selling assault-style weapons like the one used in the Florida high school shooting. The company says it will also raise the minimum age for all gun sales to 21. https://t.co/NGffuGea9U pic.twitter.com/BRPRWxFeFy
— CNN (@CNN) February 28, 2018
Dick’s began testing out replacing the merchandise last fall with batting cages, ski apparel, and other sporting gear in 10 of their stores and based on the results seen, they will expand accordingly.
Chief Executive Officer Edward Stack, a long time gun owner himself, began pulling back on firearms in 2012 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. This shooting led to his decision to remove AR-15 style and other semi-automatic rifles from all stores operating under the Dick’s logo.
Additional restrictions were implemented on the company’s Field & Stream stores after Mr. Stack discovered that Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland School Shooter who killed 17 people in February of 2018, had once purchased a gun from a Dick’s Sporting Goods Store.
Despite that firearm not being linked to the Parkland School Shooting, it affected him enough that he decided to remove firearm accessibility from his stores.
In the last year, both chains also stopped selling guns and ammunition to customers younger than 21.
While the Sandy Hook Shooting was the event that led Mr. Stack to begin implementing these changes in his stores, it was in 2016 that he made political motives clear when his sister Karen Meyer was running for Congress in the 22nd Congressional District as a Democrat. Mr. Stack, a lifetime gun owner himself and major Republican donor, did a complete 180 in 2016 when he aligned himself with outspoken gun control activists and even made a big contribution to a super PAC supporting Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats back in 2016.
He is now one of the most well known names related to the issue of the gun debate, sharing the stage with other CEOs like Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock, Mark Bertolini, a former CEO of Aetna and other strongly opinionated business leaders who have invested interest in the subject.
Regardless, his opinions have impacted the sales of Dick’s Sporting Goods which dropped by 3.1 percent from February 2018- February 2019 compared to the same time period the year previous. Additionally, sales from the 2018 holiday season were down 2.2 percent compared to the year prior. Net income for the quarter fell to $102.6 million, or $1.07 a share, from $116 million, or $1.11 a share in the year-earlier period.
Mr. Stack admits the decline is due to both the new policies relating to firearms, as well as the rising competition from Amazon.
The company projects sales to remain flat or increase by 2 percent this year compared to the previous.