Wal-Mart retailing giant resumes sales of rifles & shotguns at half of its stores

by Chad D. Baus

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is bringing back rifles, shotguns and ammunition to hundreds of U.S. stores as the hurting retail giant seeks to reinvigorate its one-stop shopping appeal and attract more male customers.

From the article:

The world's largest retailer stopped selling hunting rifles and bullets at all but a third of its U.S. stores five years ago, citing diminishing sales. It is now restoring them to hundreds of locations, bringing the total to nearly half of its more than 3,600 U.S. namesake stores, as part of a larger push to restore "heritage categories" of merchandise such as fishing rods and bolts of sewing fabric that it removed in an attempt to go upscale that backfired.

"We made a business decision to sell them in certain stores because we have realized the appeal was perhaps broader than we thought," said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar. "But we are committed to doing it as responsibly as possible, as always, in compliance with all applicable local, state and federal laws."

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer is in the midst of its worst-ever U.S. slump—with seven consecutive quarters of sales declines at stores open at least one year—and has begun a major retooling of its U.S. operations in a bid to go back to basics and re-establish the formula of broad assortments and "everyday low prices" that late founder Sam Walton made famous.

A couple of years ago, Wal-Mart pared thousands of items in an effort to declutter its stores and focus on faster-moving products. Now, after a customer backlash, it is restoring much of what it took away.

The retailer acknowledged that it may have underestimated the importance of carrying hunting and fishing gear, as well as items such as sewing fabric, to its traditional clientele, and that the slower-selling items were more crucial to driving customer visits than it had originally thought.

The article goes on to say that Wal-Mart hasn't sold handguns at its stores since the early 1990s, when it discontinued them save for special orders in Alaska. It continued to sell the ammunition.

Whether or not simply bringing the products back into stores will be enough to bring gun owners back remains to be seen, given that the retailer has apparently not reversed its 2008 decision to partner with the anti-gun extremist and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to video-tape and keep records on gun buyers.

In light of this, the questions that need to be asked by gun and ammo buyers are these:

1) What self-respecting gun or ammunition manufacturer would willingly allow Wal-Mart to carry their products?


2) What self-respecting gun or ammunition buyer would choose Wal-Mart when in the market for these goods?

Hunters and shooters interested in contacting Wal-Mart about their partnersip with Bloomberg may call Wal-Mart at 800-925-6278 or go online at www.walmartstores.com/contactus/feedback.aspx.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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