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.

32 comments
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 ?

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@DanTroyOne can cite statistics all day long.  The trouble is, you're comparing apples and geese - completely unrelated things.  The NRA and gun enthusiasts are fond of making these invidious comparisons. Someone was knifed to death so let's ban knives!  Or "People die in car accidents, let's ban cars!".  Knives and cars are tools.  They have uses that are not related with killing things.  Guns are not.  They are called weapons.  Knives and cars (and even alcohol) CAN cause death when abused or misused and even used AS weapons.  But none of them are intended to do so when using them as they are supposed to be used.

Firearms of all kinds DELIBERATELY CAUSE DEATH when used as intended.  That is what a weapon does. This is the fallacy of your argument and makes what you said completely illogical, if not irrational.  Now, if you want to argue about nuclear bombs, RPG's, hand grenades and such, great.  Guns and those are all "arms".  We control those OTHER "arms".  Where do we draw the line on "arms" when "arms" mean ANY WEAPON?

Therein, IMHO, lies the problem with the whole debate of "gun control".

If we accept that the goal is to reduce the number of people slaughtered by firearms every year, I recently addressed that concept in my blog.  The long and short of it is that in order to cut down on the carnage (because no matter what laws are passed, people are still going to be morons), let's explicitly define "arms" from the second amendment as "Any muzzle-loaded firearm consisting of no more than two barrels with a maximum rate of fire of no more than four round per minute."

The arguments are here:

http://themoderatemessenger.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-final-word-on-gun-control.html

I'm not against gun ownership, even if I'd love to see the second amendment repealed.  I'm against idiots, crazies and morons owning guns - something we can't stop while we have the second amendment.  Barring a repeal,  (which will never happen), the only OTHER thing to do is look at the situation less from a regulatory point of view and more from a weaponry point of view.  

The basic problem is rate of fire of modern weapons.  So make legal arms incapable of firing quickly.  Outlaw, restrict and regulate anything that can just like we do hand grenades and nukes.  If someone knows they only have one shot, they'll have to learn to aim.  One shot can't slaughter a classroom full of kids, but it CAN put down a crazy with an automatic weapon if someone can AIM.  Knowing that you only have one shot makes learning how to aim MANDATORY for anyone who wants to use it for personal defense (and aiming SHOULD be a requirement of gun ownership).  

This approach doesn't impinge on the second amendment at all (the arguments why are in the blog, don't try to argue here until you read the post), and will reduce the carnage.  Nothing will STOP that carnage (Americans will continue to be people, who are inherently irrational and not very bright), but at least we won't be burying kids by the dozens if people open carry one shot weapons.

There are other advantages as well, also laid out in the post.

If you have even a remotely open mind, read the post and see if you can come up with a better solution.  And and FYI, putting more guns into the hands of people will only cause more gun-related deaths in the long run (there's a short-term dip in gun-deaths due to a greater awareness of them - depending on how one parses the data, of course - but complacency with them wins out in the end).

As for implementation, that wasn't addressed in the blog, but I suspect an exchange program could be done - the weapons turned in for their single-shot counterpart with the proceeds from selling the metal from the turned-in weapons used to offset the costs.  Something that would have a minimal impact on the taxpayer and wouldn't cost the gun owner anything more.  The same for the ammo.

Rational, logical arguments in discussion are encouraged.  Who knows?  I may even respond to them (Typically, I don't reply, unless it's to show how someone's thinking is not only irrational, but delusional - so think carefully before you respond.)

robertkj177
robertkj177

Anyone trying to destroy constitutional rights is far more OBSCENE.

robertkj177
robertkj177

You're right. The Democrats are fond of anti-gun clichés such as  "If it saves the life of even ONE child, it's worth it", all the while aborting millions of babies without even blinking. The Hypocrisy of the American Democrat---it knows no limits.

robertkj177
robertkj177

Natalie, OK, we get it. You hate the NRA, and you are afraid of guns. . Sadly, you just don't understand   (a) The Constitution  and (b) the fact that the NRA had nothing to do with killing any kids, anywhere.

Bones71
Bones71

@Natalie Marshall  You are a stupid bitch. The nra had nothing to do with the shootings. People like  you shouldn't have kids and what is wrong with this great nation. Liberal scum.   

37ford
37ford

Interesting argument. What do you do, though, when someone walks into a building,where there are a lot of people, including children, with his single shot pistol, and a backpack full of homemade grenades, filled with shrapnel. It is against the law to make,possess,and use homemade grenades,but if a person wants to, they will. And, probably come up with ways to make said grenades, without gun powder, using some kind of chemicals. The carnage would be horrible, and since there would be no one able to defend themselves,(had to leave the single shot pistol at home,new restrictive laws you know) the death toll would be quite high. If the shooter at the theater in Colorado, instead of have smoke bombs, had homemade grenades instead, I believe the death toll would have been much higher. If we cannot defend ourselves, who will? The government? I don't think so.

JamesCanady
JamesCanady

The complete point of the 2nd Amendment is being missed. Reading the Amendment and the follow up writing of the founders makes this crystal clear. The assurance of survival of our Republic (not democracy as many people wrongly refer to it) is that a well armed and DISCIPLINED population is to be a healthy threat to an oppressive government. President Obama is out of line going around congress and ignoring The Constitution. We need more discipline and not so much "knee jerk" or "executive orders"

"When the people fear the government,there is tyranny .When the government fears the people,there is liberty."

                                                                                                ~Thomas Jefferson