Wal-Mart brings back gun sales

The move is just the latest sign that executives are returning to the company's roots after recent failed efforts to appear more upscale.

By InvestorPlace Apr 29, 2011 9:19AM

Omage: Men playing with guns (©Leander Baerenz/Getty Images)By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com


Wal-Mart (WMT) may be the world's biggest retailer, but that doesn't mean it has given up on growing. From planned grocery deliveries to inner-city residents to its recent purchase of a social-media company, there always seems to be something new in store.


The latest news, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that Wal-Mart will reload gun sales by cutting back on electronics floor space to make room for rifles, shotguns and ammunition at hundreds of U.S. stores.


But unlike previous failed efforts and some recent quirky initiatives, the return of guns and ammo is a return to Wal-Mart's roots -- something the company may sorely need.


Before you go making gun sales at Wal-Mart a political issue, remember that the bottom line is always the bottom line for the King of Retail. And that bottom line hasn't been very impressive lately. The company's stock is down slightly over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has tacked on 11%. This is no surprise, given seven straight quarters of same-store-sales declines in the U.S.


Wal-Mart stopped selling guns and ammo at most of its U.S. stores five years ago but is now stocking up on firearms and nearly half of its 3,600 U.S. locations. Spin doctors at the corporation claim this is part of a larger focus on "heritage categories" -- fishing rods and bolts of sewing fabric that were cut out of aisles as the discounter tried to appear more upscale.


Upscale obviously didn't work. A few of years ago, Wal-Mart eliminated thousands of items to de-clutter its stores, but it suffered more customer complaints than anything else. In September, managers made an about-face and began restocking the shelves as Wal-Mart added thousands of new products. And just a few weeks ago, it announced an ad campaign in which Wal-Mart reasserts its low-price roots. That, essentially, leaves the company right back where it started a few years ago.


That isn't a very heartening sign for shareholders. After all, businesses are meant to grow and seize more opportunities, not just put it in neutral.


But in Wal-Mart's case, it may be wise to simplify and return to the mission that made this store a retail powerhouse. Sprawling rural and suburban SuperCenters offering guns and ammo and cheap clothes, food and furnishings made the franchise what it is today. Why tinker with the model if it was so darn profitable?


In Wal-Mart's case, a return to previous business success could be the best move, especially after some new ideas that have fallen flat.


Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks or funds named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.

 

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185Comments
Apr 29, 2011 9:46AM
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Around here they never stopped selling guns and ammunition, so this is no change for us.

Comment -when you decide to accompany an article with a picture, try to at least make it responsible - every one of the idiots pictured has their fingers on the triggers. (Not to mention that three of the four are handguns, which WalMart doesn't sell, and one is an airsoft non-firearm. About par for the accuracy of a typical MSN piece.)

Apr 29, 2011 10:48AM
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Not intending to make this a social comment -- But whomever chose that stupid picture certainly did.  A very transparent effort to show gun owners as gun waving, reckless jerks.  Not cool.  Just write the article !!
Apr 29, 2011 10:26AM
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Ag999,

 

For most Americans it's indeed no big deal.  Most Americans own guns as part of our "right to bear arms" heritage.  It's important that we support ALL of our constitutional rights or we lose them, even if the thing sits in the closet and rusts away.

 

 I can't tell you the number of Canadians, Brits, etc.  I've known that immediately go out and buy a gun as soon as they are legally able.  From what I've seen, admittedly anecdotal, it seems to be  foreigners that are obsessed with American gun ownership, perhaps because they  are so restricted in their own country.

Apr 29, 2011 11:35AM
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Whether WalMart sells guns or not is not an issue with me. I believe that every citizen has a right to arm themselves and to use guns for sporting purposes.  I don't particularly like WalMart because so much of its merchandise comes from communist China. What would impress me is if they went back to products made in the USA.

As to the remarks that WalMart customers are "lower class" citizens. Those citizens are the backbone of our country. It's the liberal, "higher class" people who are destroying our country with their immorality and elitist attitude.

Apr 29, 2011 12:46PM
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to all you who want to outlaw private gun ownership, you are effectively saying that the only group in the US that should be allowed to own guns are the government; federal, state, local, whatever. 

 

really?

 

you might want to think about that.

Apr 29, 2011 11:38AM
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Aside from gun ownership, I'm a very left-leaning guy who lives in the city.  I walk for 80% of my daily travel (No, really, I've done the math.)

 

I'll never join the Democratic Party because the generalizations made by many liberals about gun owners really turn me off.  I don't need to be talked down to just because my recreational activities differ from yours.  Maybe I'm no big loss to the party, but for all the open-mindedness many left-leaning people espouse, I sure experience a lot of bigotry regarding people with a different lifestyle.

 

I also simply don't understand the mentality that, if we just passed more laws, or banned guns completely, nothing bad would ever happen as a result of gun violence.  People who commit crimes ARE CRIMINALS.  They already are willing to break the law.  (In many cases, they are doing so simply by possessing a firearm.)  I don't understand how someone can honestly believe that one more law is going to magically stop people who have proven themselves to have little or no regard for the law anyway.

Apr 29, 2011 10:59AM
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Wal Mart employees have no choice but abide by gun laws whenever selling a firearm. Every sale Must accompany a background check through the FBI.
Apr 29, 2011 11:38AM
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GLAD TO HEAR. SPORTING GOODS SECTION, AS A WHOLE, WENT DOWN HILL WHEN GUNS WERE REMOVED.
Apr 29, 2011 12:54PM
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The statement "guns dont kill people, people kill"  people is entirely true!!! I can set my loaded Springfield 1911 on the table, cocked and locked, and there it will sit, UNTIL a person picks it up, aims it, and pulls the trigger!!! 
Apr 29, 2011 10:31AM
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Really bad photo. Walmart here in Phoenix has always sold rifles and shotguns but no handguns. Dont know why.

remember when Montgomery Wards sold all guns? Those were the days.

Apr 29, 2011 10:58AM
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Great news.  I may just start shopping at Wal-Mart, again.
Apr 29, 2011 2:15PM
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For ewent and Whoever else, The word Militia is no where else in any Amendment. Military and the Militia are not the same. I myself am tired of being called stupid because I support the 2nd Amendment. It is always People like you, who think they know better than I do, How I should live my life ans spend MY MONEY. 
   
   A well regulated Militia, being NECESSARY to the security of a free state, the right of THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It has everything to do with the peoples GOD given right to defend themselves. To defend from Tryanny, Abusive treatment, Threat of life and people like you, who think they need to control others and make them live a certain way.  I do not know where you see militias Several times in other amendments, but please I ask for you to guide me through all these other uses of the word because it is not in my American Constitution, it Must be in your liberal copy.
  More people are killed in car accidents than by firearms in America
  More people are killed by Doctors mistakes in America than by Firearms.
   I guess your Answer would be Ban Doctors and cars.
Apr 29, 2011 12:15PM
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Everyone commenting on how violence is going to go up because more guns will be on the street, blah blah blah... really makes me chuckle.  Did you read the article?  They're selling shotguns and rifles, not handguns.  A person can't exactly walk down the street touting a shotgun and even if they do try to hide it with a trench coat or something it would look highly suspicious and they'd be stopped (hopefully) by the police.  Walmart isn't selling concealed weapons, they're selling sporting rifles.

Mexican cartels, "thugs," "terrorists," etc.. aren't going to all of a sudden take up arms via Wally World.

Apr 29, 2011 11:38AM
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What is MSN saying by the picture they posted with this article? That gun owners are crazy, unschooled people who never grew up? Go Wal-Mart-help us use our constitutional rights!
Apr 29, 2011 12:26PM
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#1 "Guns" DONT Kill People- PEOPLE Kill People!

 

i.e.. gangsters kill people- crack heads kill people- thiefs kill people- ALL of which DO so with STOLEN or UNDERGROUND Guns- NOT Guns owned by a card holding LEGAL GUN OWNERS

 

#2 Walmarts smart... They see the many concerns of 2012 and realize the folks (majority of People) shop at there store- and Most of them cant afford a seat in one of the fancy executive modern day noahs arks- ie, underground bunkers Vieo condos etc (google-you tube it its all the talk) With more and more going off the grid and fears of martial Law- Gun sales are rising and Walmart just wants to capitalize! IMO...

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Owning a firearm is a RIGHT, just like the right to speak freely, or the right to vote. The Amendment was intended for ourselves to be the last line of defense against a tyrannical government. The RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS IS JUST THAT A RIGHT NOT A "PRIVILEGE" as some of you would like it to be.
Apr 29, 2011 11:54AM
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Funny, when people want to take away gun rights they point to Canada.

Yet they don't like to mention Mexico. Mexico has very strict gun laws. The average person there cannot posses, buy or sell guns or ammo.

Washington DC has the strictest gun laws in the US - and the murder rate there is HIGHER than the country of Mexico. 

Millions of Americans have been told by the left that you should be able to take from those with more than you.

It's no surprise then when a crook kills someone while trying to redistribute income to their own pocket.

Apr 29, 2011 12:02PM
Apr 29, 2011 12:05PM
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The sissies afraid of guns among us are nothing but thick-headed by failing to realize that there are more than 80 million gun owners in the USA & there's zero chance they are going to give up their guns.

 

Yes, the news media dwells upon every criminal abuse of firearms with indecent joy, but it rarely ever mentions that, as even the Clinton Justice Department acknowledged, firearms are used by ordinary people in the USA upwards of a million & a quarter times each & every year in a self-defense &/or crime prevention situation.    

 

In addition, the one & only dues paying organization in the USA with four million or more paid-up members is the NRA.

Apr 29, 2011 10:19AM
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WalMart never stopped selling guns - I don't know what gives with this article...plus, I agree with a previous posting - what kind of picture is that????
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