Walmart, Dick’s changed gun policies after Parkland and consumers definitely noticed

A new poll found that both companies saw increased support following their moves to raise the minimum age to purchase a gun.

Shopping carts sit outside of a Walmart store on January 11, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. CREDIT: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Shopping carts sit outside of a Walmart store on January 11, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. CREDIT: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Consumer perception of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart both increased significantly after the companies changed their gun sales policies last week, according to a new YouGov Brand index poll.

Last week, both Walmart and Dick’s raised the minimum age to purchase a gun in their stores to 21. Additionally, Dick’s said they would stop selling assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines. (Walmart stopped selling modern sporting rifles — including the AR-15 — three years ago, and does not sell high-capacity magazines.)

The policy changes come in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month that left 17 people dead.

YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks the perception of more than 1,600 major brands each day, asked the question, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news, or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” and found that both Walmart and Dick’s were viewed more positively after changing their policies.

Dick’s BrandIndex score rose by five points, while Walmart’s rose a full 12.3 points.

According to YouGov, Democrats drove Dick’s increase in perception, while Republicans and independents remained unchanged, something, the pollster said in a statement, that “possibly indicates conflict within their own ranks.”

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As for Walmart, YouGov said it was both Democrats and independents that drove the increase in perception, while Republican perception of the company dropped mildly.

YouGov has tracked similar responses to companies that have cut ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of the Parkland shooting. According to their polling, the perception of companies who cut ties with the NRA in recent weeks was largely unchanged, though they did break along party lines.

Democrats responded positively to companies that cut ties with the gun lobby, while Republicans, by contrast, didn’t change their perceptions. According to YouGov, Independents tended to respond negatively.

“While the Democrats are going as expected, it seems Republicans are divided on their brand support in light of this news,” YouGov BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli said in a statement. “For Independents, it may indicate that consumers who are less political are more skeptical of the motives behind the brands’ decisions.”

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YouGov does not track public perception of FedEx, one of the only major companies still doing business with the NRA. Though it has tried to distance itself publicly from the NRA, ThinkProgress reported that the company has privately struck a deal with dozens of major gun manufacturers and dealers — including the NRA itself — to provide them with cheaper shipping in an effort to woo the industry away from its competitors.