White text across a purple background read:
Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO: We lost $150M in sales since we stopped selling guns. We still don’t regret the decision.
As we have noted on several prior pages, content spreading in this particular format, generally on but not limited to Facebook, can be problematic. Text-based status update memes are eye-catching, colorful, and highly shareable, but can often be used to easily spread disinformation without citations or news links.
We didn’t have to dig too far to substantiate this particular claim, as the meme was presented as an indirect quote or paraphrase. However, current and prior reporting indicated that the wording might be misleading. A March 2019 Bloomberg Business item titled “Restricting Gun Sales Cost Dick’s $150 Million Last Year” reported:
Last February , when Dick’s Sporting Goods boss Ed Stack announced he was restricting gun sales at the country’s largest sports retailer, he knew it’d be costly.
At the time, Dick’s was a major seller of firearms. Guns also drove the sale of soft goods—boots, hats, jackets. What’s more, Stack, the retailer’s chief executive officer, suspected the position could drive off some of his customers on political principle.
He was right. Dick’s estimates the policy change cost the company about $150 million in lost sales, an amount equivalent to 1.7 percent of annual revenue. Stack says it was worth it.
“The system does not work,” Stack said. “It’s important that when you know there’s something that’s not working, and it’s to the detriment of the public, you have to stand up.”
Per the article, Dick’s Sporting Goods discontinued the sale of guns in February 2018. That same month, a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The meme’s accurate citation of a revenue figure ($150 million) was contrasted in that report with a percentage of sales — 1.7 percent. Although $150 million is certainly not an insignificant amount, the overall sum was less than two percent of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ overall sales.
Another was that the meme said “stopped” with reference to the sale of guns— the March 2019 article said “restricting” and “reducing,” rather than no longer carrying guns at all. Additional reporting indicated that the February 2018 announcement and change referred to specific weapons and high capacity magazines.
However, articles published just days after this meme appeared indicated that Dick’s Sporting Goods might in fact be considering discontinuing the sale of guns entirely:
Dicks Sporting Goods could announce as early as [August 22 2019] a plan to stop selling guns at all of its stores, according to CNN Business.
In March , the Pittsburgh-headquartered company announced the retailer would stop selling firearms at 125 of its stores, leaving sales in about 600 stores.
The meme said Dick’s Sporting Goods “lost $150M in sales” since they stopped selling guns, and its chief executive officer still does not regret the decision. At the time it was published on August 15 2019, the chain had not stopped selling guns entirely, but revenue did drop by $150 million after its decision to stop selling certain weapons and ammunition. However, an August 20 2019 article indicated Dick’s was considering the cessation of gun sales entirely. The figure was accurate, and the paraphrase was largely in line with the CEO’s comments — but the chain had not yet stopped selling guns entirely.