The Big Story
For Retailers, Is Being Political Ever Correct? – Part III
Paul Alexander, CFA
Retail brands appear to be taking public political stances at an increasing rate, a move that has traditionally seemed foolish to many in the industry. This is a phenomenon we have written about in this space twice in recent months, as our colleague Mark Lenz chronicled in parts one and two of this series Patagonia’s public opposition to the Trump administation’s moves to reduce the size of national monuments, and Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods’s decisions to raise the minimum age at which the companies will sell firearms to a customer from 18 to 21. Presumably, these decisions were carefully weighed, given their political, moral, and business-related implications. They also seem to be a sign of the times, of the increasing difficulty that any person or brand has today of remaining politically neutral. But a recent report suggest that it may be even more difficult to remain politically neutral than we ever realized. In fact, from now on, it may be effectively impossible.