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Dick's Sporting Goods realizes: Taking sides in politics is going to hurt business


By —— Bio and Archives--March 18, 2018

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Dick's Sporting Goods realizes: Taking sides in politics is going to hurt business
I can’t think of a single time when it’s benefited a company to abandon sound business principles in favor of political posturing. Is certainly didn’t help Target. It hasn’t helped Starbucks. And it didn’t take long for Dick’s Sporting Goods to realize it’s decision to pander to the gun grabbers would exact a serious price:

Dick’s Sporting Goods reported disappointing holiday sales numbers in part due to weak demand for one-time hot brands like Under Armour.

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I can’t think of a single time when it’s benefited a company to abandon sound business principles in favor of political posturing. Is certainly didn’t help Target. It hasn’t helped Starbucks. And it didn’t take long for Dick’s Sporting Goods to realize it’s decision to pander to the gun grabbers would exact a serious price:

Dick’s Sporting Goods reported disappointing holiday sales numbers in part due to weak demand for one-time hot brands like Under Armour.

The company’s CEO also said recent changes to its firearm policies, ending the sale of guns to anyone under 21, will hurt future sales and may cause fewer shoppers to come to its stores.

Last month, Dick’s stepped into the national spotlight when, in the aftermath of a school massacre in Parkland, Florida, it banned the sale of assault-style rifles and the sale of all guns to anyone under 21. Other retailers followed suit, including Walmart, which also raised its minimum age rules for firearms.

Its stock tumbled in afternoon trading Tuesday.

Sales fell 2 percent at established stores during the fourth quarter, which was about double the decline that Wall Street was expecting. Industry analysts watch that figure closely as a barometer of a retailer’s health as it excludes the volatility of stores recently opened or closed.

To try and improve sales, CEO Edward Stack said the company will give more store space to its private-label brands, such as Second Skin workout apparel. Its store brands are growing faster than others, and Stack expects them to surpass $2 billion in sales in a “short period of time,” but did not give an exact time for that to happen.

Stack said Tuesday that the company’s new firearms policy “is not going to be positive from a traffic standpoint and a sales standpoint.”

You don’t say.

Anyone thinking clearly could predict that a decision to scapegoat and alienate half your customer base would come back to bite you. Yet it’s easy to see how Dick’s fell into this trap, since it always happens the same way.

When something horrific like the Stoneman Douglas shooting happens, there’s a massive societal response that’s heavy on emotion and blame. Those who like to use incidents like these to push political and social agendas are also the most shameless about scapegoating others, and the news media trumpet these people’s proclamations, treating them as if they have unquestioned moral authority.

So we not only see the scapegoating of the National Rifle Association, but of anyone who supports the Second Amendment, and anyone who has any role in making firearms available to the public. As all this builds to a fever pitch, CEOs get very nervous about being on the wrong side of public sentiment. The activists are always louder than they are numerous, but they’re the ones getting the attention and you don’t want to become their target.

So you make a rash decision. No more sales of automatic rifles. No more sales of guns to anyone under 21.

We know when we’ve been insulted, and we’re not going to reward the people who do it

It’s your store and you’re welcome to do whatever you want. But people aren’t stupid. They know Dick’s made these decisions as a concession to the gun-grabbers, as a de facto ceding of the argument to those who argue the right to keep and bear arms is the problem. Dick’s made this call in a panic, because of perceived public relations pressure, not because of sound business logic or the more extensive experience of history.

Now the company’s leaders have to deal with the consequences of their decision to let one group on one side of the political aisle bully them. Those they scapegoated by implication are going to shop elsewhere. Those whose point of view they treated as illegitimate are going to respond in kind. There was never a chance it would turn out any other way.

The job of a business is to make or sell products and services people want. It is not to take sides in political fights, especially when you’re only taking sides because a bunch of loud activists threatened and intimidated you. Conservatives generally don’t denounce and threaten boycotts of businesses because of politics. That’s the left’s trick. We just buy what we want where we want.

But we know when we’ve been insulted, and we’re not going to reward the people who do it.


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