The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods says it may pull hunting products from its stores due to big financial losses on declining sales in the second half of 2018.

CEO Edward Stack said during a conference call in late November a prolonged slump in sales of hunting equipment is tied to the company’s decision to stop selling AR-style rifles at its stores. That decision was made after the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Stack announced days after the shooting the chain would quit selling the AR-style rifles and “high capacity” magazines. It also quit selling firearms to anyone less than age 21.

“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” he told The New York Times in February. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us. We’re going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and, hopefully, bring people along into the conversation.”

Hunters and sport shooters responded quickly and harshly to the change, saying Dick’s was doing little more than “virtue signaling” as calls came for a boycott. Dick’s, the nation’s biggest sporting goods retailer, has about 850 stores in the United States and 30,000 employees.

Spring and early summer sales of firearms, ammunition, hunting gear and apparel are not as pronounced as in the financial third quarter, and Dick’s saw revenue increase in summer with sales of traditional sporting equipment. But Dick’s posted a same-store sales decline of 3.9 percent in its fiscal third quarter. Net sales fell 4.5 percent to $1.86 billion. That was attributed to declines in hunting and electronic equipment.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Stack said he “didn’t care what the financial implication” would be from his proposed changes. Days after the Parkland shooting, he presented his ideas for ending sales of the AR-style rifles and raising the minimum age to purchase in their stores. From the WSJ:

Dick’s Financial Chief Lee Belitsky asked, “So what’s the financial implication here?” according to Mr. Stack. “I basically said, I don’t really care what the financial implication is, but you’re right, we should look.”

Sleight of Hand?

Dick’s Sporting goods owns the Field & Stream Shops 1871 brand and stores, a subsidiary that is stocked only with camping, hunting and fishing equipment.

The Field & Stream Shops 1871 subsidiary is not related to the magazine Field & Stream, which is owned by the Bonnier Corp.  Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2012 purchased licensing rights to the name Field and Stream from the successors of Gordon & Ferguson Merchandising Company, which began selling “Field and Stream” clothing in 1915.

There is no branding of Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Field & Stream Shops 1871 stores. The branding logos are different sizes and colors, as well. Therefore hunters and shooters who don’t know about the association, and would want to not shop at either retailer, might not make the connection.

After the Parkland shooting sales of AR-style rifles and “high capacity” magazines also were halted in Field & Stream Shops 1871 stores. The 21-or-older age minimum also was imposed. Springfield Armory and Mossberg were among companies that ceased doing business with Dick’s and Field & Stream Shops due to these moves.

Stack, the CEO, has said that more “negative action” against Dick’s could impact future earnings.

Featured image: Wikipedia, by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube