Wal-Mart Receives Cheers and Jeers
By George Anderson
No matter what Wal-Mart does these days, it appears as though its actions are going to get some groups annoyed with the company, even as others applaud.
The most recent example comes in response to the retailer’s announcement that it would stop selling guns in about 1,000 of its stores.
Chris Cox, the chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA), told The Associated Press, “We’ve been told by Wal-Mart that the decision would be made on a store-by-store basis based on demand. The NRA and our members will be watching closely to make sure they stay true to their word.”
Guns right advocates and sporting groups are concerned that the retailer’s decision could make it more difficult for consumers in underserved areas such as rural locations to find firearms and supplies. Wal-Mart is the largest seller of rifles and shotguns in the U.S.
Jolanda Stewart, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, said the retailer’s decision to stop selling guns in some locations was simply business and not a statement on a change of position on selling firearms. “As with all merchandise decisions that we make, our decision to remove guns from Wal-Mart locations is simply based on the lack of customer-purchase history of firearms in a given community,” she said.
Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott said the company would replace the space given to firearms with products that better serve local demand. The company’s recently upscale unit in Plano, Texas, for example, will not sell guns but will expand the amount of space devoted to home-fitness and exercise equipment.
Perhaps those with the most reason to cheer about Wal-Mart’s announcement, said Steve Wagner, spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, are smaller stores selling firearms that have been hurt by the retailer’s success in the category.
Moderator’s Comment: What impact will Wal-Mart’s decision not to sell guns in roughly one-third of its stores have on the company’s market share in the
firearms category? – George Anderson – Moderator