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Walmart Might Benefit from Ammunition Ban

Say Contributor

Walmart recently announced it would begin limiting certain types of ammunition sales, and now there’s evidence that the retail giant might get rewarded for their efforts. Public Pressure After the death of 22 people in a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart last month, as well as a concurrent mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, Walmart has been under pressure to do more to help curb American gun violence. At first, it seemed like Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon wasn’t really sure what to do beyond offering sympathy. But after increased public pressure from critics and McMillon’s own employees, some of whom organized a walkout to pressure the company into taking concrete action, Walmart took action. Walmart announced this week it would discontinue the sale of short-barrel rifle ammunition that can also be used in assault rifles as soon as the current stock is sold through, and it will also stop the sale of handguns in Alaska, the only state where the retailer still sells them, and has asked that customers not bring guns to their store in states where open carry is legal. Poll Position Walmart is the nation’s largest retailer. Although it rarely divulges its sales numbers, but it is widely assumed to also be America's largest gun retailer. There was reason to wonder if the ammo ban would hurt the company’s bottom line, as Dick’s Sporting Goods shares fell 6% this year after it stopped selling guns and ammo in 125 out of its more than 700 stores after the Parkland shooting. But there’s evidence that this move might be good for the company, as a new poll from CivicScience found that “of 1,986 U.S. adult Walmart shoppers found that under the open carry changes, 29% are more likely to shop in Walmart stores and 22% are ‘much more likely’ to shop there” while 51% said their feelings were about the same as before the ban, 6% of those polled said they were less likely to shop at Walmart, and 14% were much less likely to shop. A concurrent poll about the customer’s feelings about the ammunition ban found similar results. Reactionary Walmart’s move has, predictably, generated a variety of responses, from the NRA’s expected outcry to measured praise from gun control activists and politicians such as Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Even conservative stalwart The National Review viewed the ammo ban as evidence that “woke capitalism is here to stay.” As far as the market’s opinion, shares of Walmart went up 1% in response to the news, and after taking an initial hit, in August Dick’s announced its best quarter since 2016. -Michael Tedder Photo: Michelle McLoughlin/REUTERS