Immediately following the Sandy Hook tragedy, Dick’s Sporting Goods adopted a no-guns policy. They pulled guns from the shelves and cancelled all existing gun orders. Customers who had pre-ordered a Troy Carbine just in time for Christmas received a gift certificate instead of the actual weapon.
Unsurprisingly, this ticked off more than a few customers. Stopping all future gun sales is one thing, but cancelling gun sales that customers had already paid for was a low blow.
Fortunately for these angry consumers, they didn’t have to wait very long for economic justice. Sales at Dick’s Sporting Goods dropped 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared the fourth quarter in 2011. The company’s shares have also dropped 10% in the last quarter.
What makes these numbers so painful for Dick’s shareholders is that the gun industry is absolutely booming. Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped gun sales at the worst possible moment – gun distributors everywhere else in the country are struggling to keep their stores stocked as eager consumers wait in line to get their hands on bullets and firearms.
A 2% dip in sales doesn’t just mean that Dick’s is making less money – it also suggests that gun nuts are throwing cash at Dick’s competitors who will now be more capable of outbidding and outadvertising the massive sporting goods chain.
Even if Dick’s reverses its gun ban, that might not be enough to win over gun enthusiasts. After being burned during last year’s Christmas season, shoppers may be disinclined to spend money at the store – for guns, ammo, sports jerseys, running shoes, or anything else for that matter.
The loss of the gun crowd probably won’t put a nail in Dick’s coffin. The chain reported that online sales have risen by 54% and Golf Galaxy, another chain owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods, saw a 1.3% rise in sales. The company is big enough and diverse enough to survive the loss of gun sales.