In the wake of two deadly shootings in Walmart stores recently, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon today announced major new policies relating to ammunition sales and open carrying of firearms in Walmart stores. Specifically, Walmart will cease all sales of handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition, while prohibiting customers – other than law enforcement officers – from openly brandishing guns while in the store.
This move also comes only a week after Dick’s Sporting Goods released strong company earnings to Wall St., months after removing guns from their store shelves altogether. Analysts were apprehensive toward the move by Dick’s, fearing a backlash from pro-gun customers. In the end, the move appeared to not only not hurt the sporting goods retailer but even provide a lift.
Walmart Is Poised to See Similar Benefits
Given its prevalence in largely non-urban and politically-right-leaning areas, the Walmart decision might seem like a more tenuous one. But survey data from CivicScience, collected within hours of the Walmart announcement, tell a more promising story.
The survey of 1,380 U.S. adult Walmart shoppers found that 29% are more likely to shop in Walmart stores due to the changed “open carry” policy, with 22% saying they are “much more likely.” Only 19% said they are less likely, including 14% who said they are “much less likely.”
Meanwhile, a second survey question asked to 1,471 U.S. adult Walmart shoppers about the ban on ammunition sales found nearly identical results. 28% of respondents said the new policy will make them more likely to shop in Walmart stores, including 21% who are “much more likely.” Conversely, 20% are less likely and 14% “much less likely” to shop at Walmart as a result.
In both cases, initial reaction to the policies is a clear net positive for Walmart, particularly given what we know about the demographic and socio-political orientation of Walmart shoppers at large. And if anything should give the folks at Walmart some comfort, take a look at the same question we asked Dick’s shoppers earlier this year:
Notice that these results were much more divided, with a slightly larger number being more likely to shop at Dick’s after the announcement, but also a larger number of “much less likely.” For Dick’s to announce the glowing financial numbers 8+ months after this announcement bodes well for Walmart in the long run.
It will be interesting to see how the next 6 months and the holiday shopping season unfold.