Walmart’s On-Again, Off-Again Relationship with Guns

Walmart representatives met with Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to talk guns and gun control. But how important are gun sales to Walmart’s bottom line?

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Naljah Feanny/Corbis

Shoppers look at a case of guns at a Walmart in Honesdale, Pa.

After initially declining to discuss gun policy with the White House, representatives from Walmart met with Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday as part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing talks on guns and gun control. Walmart’s apparent reluctance may reflect the extent to which gun sales have become an important part of the retailer’s bottom line. But just how important are they?

The U.S.’s largest retailer has what you might call an on-again, off-again relationship with guns. Back in 2006, Walmart stopped selling guns at a third of its stores, citing a lack of demand and “diminished customer relevancy.” Instead, it replaced firearms with other sporting goods like home fitness and exercise products. According to a 2006 New York Times article, this move coincided with Walmart’s shift away from rural areas and toward cities and suburbs.

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But when the recession hit in 2009, even “everyday low prices” couldn’t keep sales from slumping. Walmart experienced seven straight quarters of same-store sales declines in the U.S., triggering the retailer to expand its product selection. Among the additions: fishing rods, craft and sewing supplies, and guns.

Selections of rifles, shotguns and ammunition previously sold at Walmart were back as the retailer tried once again to target customers in more rural parts of the country. Today, guns are sold at between 1,700 and 1,800 of the 4,000 outlets across the U.S., says Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg. At about a third of its stores, the offerings include “modern sporting rifles,” a term that refers to the type of semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Walmart doesn’t release specific gun-sales figures, so it’s difficult to determine what share of total U.S. gun sales are made at the country’s largest retailer. But given its broad, national reach, Walmart is likely the single biggest firearms seller in the U.S. And lately business has been good: even before reports that Walmart had sold out of semiautomatic rifles following Sandy Hook, chief merchandising officer Duncan MacNaughton said in October that revenue from gun sales increased 76% in the first half of the most recent fiscal year, while ammunition sales increased 30%.

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The other significant gun seller in the U.S. is outdoor retailer Cabela’s. It doesn’t release gun-sales figures either, but hunting equipment in general, which includes firearms, made up 41% of the chain’s sales in 2011, according to Bloomberg News.

While Walmart may be concerned about a possible assault-weapons ban or other pieces of gun-control legislation from the Obama Administration, it’s possible that new gun laws could actually help the retailer. The Huffington Post is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden is likely to propose that independent gun dealers force buyers to go through Walmart’s certified background checks, which could end up driving more foot traffic into Walmart stores.

35 comments
mgnm02
mgnm02

Eric Holder. Every time I see his name I laugh.

robertkj177
robertkj177

Folks, each and every time you see some Democrat talk about getting rid of guns, and "saving kids", just TURN THE TABLE on them. Say,  "Well, did you know there are over a million abortions a year in the US? In fact, around 1.2 million. So, aren't THOSE kids important?  Did you know that more children(babies) are killed each and every DAY by abortion, than die in a whole YEAR by guns? Yep. It's true."  Watch them try to change the topic, or say it's not the same thing, or stammer away.


If they try to tell you that abortion is legal, then tell them gun ownership is too.


In fact, gun ownership is guaranteed by The Constitution, but abortion isn't.

SigneKnapp
SigneKnapp

When George Soros buys stock and ditches within days reels manipulation. Sucker , not sucking this old mans fil

SigneKnapp
SigneKnapp

95% of legal gun owners do not commit crimes.

TimmyTimeTravler
TimmyTimeTravler

Why would Yahoo use Time for posting comments other than restricting Free Speech? I smell a Cheese Eating Rat = Repost if you agree!

 

The.Heretic
The.Heretic

If Walmart thinks it will get increased gun sales by supporting gun control legislation of any sort (including requiring an FFL for private transfers), then they better think again; the likely result would be that gun buyers and owners would boycott Walmart not just for gun related purchases, but for all purchases period. 

Way-coolJunior
Way-coolJunior

The solution is not in regulating the guns (because it's not feasible at this time) but in implementing laws that serve to regulate the gun owners.  It could be done in much the same that MADD targeted drunk drivers. Anyone who has a firearm  in their possession and is found to be under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or taking any kind of anti-psychotic medications has the weapon confiscated (with no chance of reclaiming it) and, if convicted, immediately loses their right to own firearms for a specific period of time... the second offense results in a more severe penalty and the third results in forfeiture of your rights to own a firearm permanently.  Any firearm owner who is found to behave in a reckless or unsafe fashion with their firearm is subject to the same penalties. It's not perfect but it's a start. 


 

morris
morris

I have to say that I understand Wal-Mart's position. Money is what drives businesses and people to do many of the things they do and say. Now Americans are feeling the austerity bite as payroll taxes rise. http://tiny.cc/moneyotips

murray
murray

Walmart will sell you just about anything that is legal in that area to make a profit and retain a customer!...even if it may harm you or other people. business  is the American way, regardless!

DanTroy
DanTroy

But if one bad apple spoils the harvest, lets just throw out the batch. While having a nice cold beer. That is the logic they are using.  They forget that Alcohol kills 77,000 Americans each year. Drunk Drivers alone kill more each day then guns do, even with all the DUI checkpoints and laws against drunk driving.  Sure ignore a law that would instantly save lives and stop abuse "No alcohol sales after 10pm" there, that simple, I just saved 10,000 lives each year and reduced drunk driving deaths each day by 15-25.  

But they won't because Alcohol has a nice tax on it, and everyone loves their wine as much as a Redneck his guns. 

 Wolf with dentures kills 5 sheep; sheep ban dentures.

 Why not just have a 8 year, 8 hour class you must take before you can buy Ammo? Let the instructor pass out the cards so no government involved?  Who cares if the gun is stolen or if the gun was a fully automatic weapon if you can't buy ammo? 

Bob Millar
Bob Millar

It's always about the money in America?

Daniel Gyovai
Daniel Gyovai

I think it's great to have a selection of guns at supermarkets. In case of a zombie apocalypse, people would have a ready source of firearms within relatively easy reach.

Pat Collender
Pat Collender

A chained supermarket selling guns is obscene

Joyce Hui
Joyce Hui

Obama’s vows is still ringing in the ears

Dax Energi
Dax Energi

less hypocritical than killing 300,000 babies per year and growing - by planned parenthood. if the republicans are the party of the rich, the democrats are the party of the biggest hypocrites.

Esther Harding
Esther Harding

How important is not being boycotted by the vast majority, thus not going out of business, to Walmart?

Natalie Marshall
Natalie Marshall

less important than the nra authorizing killing of children in school.

Dax Energi
Dax Energi

How important are abortions to Democrats bottom line ?