Gun Sales in the Spotlight as Dick’s Sporting Goods Readies Q2 Earnings

A year and a half has passed since Dick’s Sporting Goods announced changes to its firearm sales policies in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last February.

Today, the retailer continues to navigate the impact of its decisions — particularly as recent mass shootings in the United States have brought the subject of gun violence back in the spotlight. This month alone, 31 people were fatally shot at El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and in the aftermath, big-name retailers like Walmart and Dick’s are increasingly facing scrutiny over their sales of firearms.

While Walmart chairman and CEO Doug McMillon said that it wouldn’t make any immediate changes to its gun sales policies, Dick’s is reportedly testing out a retreat from its “hunt” category, which includes firearms. According to CNN, the company is expected to announce the outcome of that trial period on Thursday, when it posts its second-quarter earnings results.

Considered one of the major retailers of firearms in the U.S., the sporting goods firm would draw significant public attention if it decides to take such measures — even potentially leading other companies to minimize or completely halt the sale of guns.

“It’s a big statement, and there are other retailers that will absolutely follow suit,” said Hersh Davis-Nitzberg, reputation expert and CEO of crisis management firm Reputation Control Inc. “There are a number of major social issues right now, and companies are choosing to take a stand. Dick’s is [keeping an eye on] market trends and really understanding its core consumers, which are families. It speaks to the voice of the public today.”

Dick’s no longer sells assault-style rifles in its stores. (The company began the process of destroying the weapons following its policy change on Feb. 28, 2018 — two weeks after the Marjorie Stoneman school shooting.) It had raised the age restriction for purchases of firearms and ammunition to 21 as well as taken down items that resemble assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys.

Last year’s Q3 also saw Dick’s remove hunting products from 10 stores where the category was underperforming, said chairman and CEO Edward Stack, replacing them with other merchandise that led to positive comp sales and strong margins in those locations. This year, the firm is continuing with its plan to remove hunting gear from 125 more stores.

Analysts are forecasting earnings per share of $1.20 on revenues of $2.21 billion in the second quarter. As of 11:30 a.m. ET, Dick’s shares were up 2% to $33.00.

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