Dick's Sporting Goods' strict gun policy hurts hunting business, shares sink

Dick’s Sporting Goods is considering an exit from the hunting goods business amid a continued sales slump related to its decision to stop selling guns at its stores, the company’s CEO Edward Stack said during a conference call on Wednesday.

The sports equipment retailer posted a same-store sales decline of 3.9 percent in its fiscal third quarter. Net sales fell 4.5 percent to $1.86 billion – a drop that company executives attributed to weak performance in its hunting and electronics category.

Dick’s Chief Financial Officer Lee Belitsky said the company’s decision to end the sale of assault rifles and enact an age limit on all firearm and ammunition sales played a role in the dip in hunting sector revenue, since fewer hunters were in stores to buy outdoor gear.

Stack said the company replaced hunting goods in 10 stores where sales were particularly weak with gear from better-performing sectors such as baseball equipment. While Dick’s has yet to determine whether to remove hunting goods from other stores, Stack said the company would consider further reductions.

“We are looking at a number of stores where the hunt business significantly underperforms and we will assess whether we want to take it out and replace it with these other categories, if that ends up to be a smart thing to do from a business standpoint,” Stack said.

Dick’s Sporting Goods shares fell more than 7 percent in trading Thursday on the weak earnings results and a stock downgrade from JPMorgan Chase analysts.

Dick’s was one of several companies to alter its gun sales policy after a school shooting earlier this year in Parkland, Florida, left 17 dead. Walmart also enacted an age limit at its stores.