Analyst slams Dick's Sporting Goods over new gun policies

Dick’s Sporting Goods faces uncertainty over new gun polices. (Photo: Dick’s Sporting Goods/Facebook)

A financial analyst slammed leadership at Dick’s Sporting Goods this week for becoming “the corporate face of gun control.”

Yanni Lodato, a contributor at Seeking Alpha, criticized Chief Executive Officer Ed Stack for adopting a “disadvantageous political alignment” when he banned gun sales to customers under 21 and pulled modern sporting rifles from the shelves at three dozen Field and Stream stores across the nation.

Stack previously discontinued “assault-style” rifles at more than 800 Dick’s locations after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. The newest rules come in the wake of a February school shooting in Parkland, Florida that claimed 17 lives.

“In one fell swoop, Stack effectively alienated a large portion of the store’s clientele base,” Lodato said. ” I don’t understand why management would assume a political position, although a step toward stricter gun control may be the ethical or moral high ground, management should conceptualize that a sizable portion of shoppers are gun enthusiasts, resulting in both decreased sales and potential customer loss over this very personal issue. ”

A handful of other high-profile retailers followed in Dick’s footsteps in March, including  WalmartKroger and L.L. Bean. Lodato points out share prices for Dick’s have fallen 45 percent from 2016 highs, though its currently trading higher than the week the retailer announced its new gun policies.

Stack told investors last month, despite an outpouring of support, he believes the policies could negatively impact sales in 2018.

“The announcement we made two weeks ago regarding our firearms policy is not going to be positive from a traffic standpoint and a sales standpoint,” he said. “There’s going to be the people who just don’t shop us anymore for anything.”

Stack cautioned “its too early to tell” how deep the impact of the new policies will be felt. “We’ve seen a bit of a difference in the hunt business, not an awful lot,” he said. “It’s too early to tell how this is going to be impacted, but we’ve got what we think the impact will be backed into our guidance.”

President Lauren Hobart likewise told investors last month the sporting goods retailer’s anticipated recovery in its hunting category didn’t materialize last quarter as weak demand for guns persists.

“The improvement was not as much as we have expected,” she said. “We expect the hunting headwind to continue throughout 2018 and will likely be more impactful as a result of our recently announced changes in our firearms policies.”

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