Over the weekend, West Coast superstore Fred Meyer, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., announced it will stop selling guns and ammunition. Based in Portland, Ore., the chain said Friday it made the decision after “evaluating customer preferences.” The company has 132 stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. It sells guns at approximately 45 of them.
Following last month’s tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Fred Meyer said it would stop selling firearms to anyone younger than 21. The company had already stopped selling so-called “assault-style” guns several years ago, except in Alaska.
For someone who lived in Alaska for 15 years, Fred Meyer in Anchorage was the place many of us shopped for — not just guns and ammunition — but also fishing tackle, camping gear, and related items. Fred Meyer stores are large Walmart-like stores, selling an array of items including groceries, clothing, electronics, outdoor equipment, furniture and jewelry. They also have onsite pharmacies.
In a published statement the company said, “Fred Meyer has made a business decision to exit the firearms category. We are currently working on plans to responsibly phase out sales of firearms and ammunition.”
They didn’t give a timeline for the phase-out, and an AP report said the company wasn’t offering interviews. Fred Meyer said the firearms category represents about $7 million annually of its revenue, and sales have been declining.
“We made the decision early last week after evaluating changing customer preferences and the fact that we’ve been steadily reducing this category in our Fred Meyer stores over the last several years due to softening consumer demand,” the company said. “More recently we have been transitioning away from gun departments as a result of our ongoing work to optimize space in our Fred Meyer stores.”
Though Fred Meyer did not mention the Florida shooting in its statement, it comes on the heels of other major retailers — notably Walmart and L.L. Bean. Both retailers, among others, announced they would stop selling guns to anyone younger than 21. Additionally, Dick’s Sporting Goods and its affiliate Field & Stream stores recently banned sales of AR-15-type rifles. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced last month that it will no longer sell AR-15-style rifles or high-capacity magazines and will not sell guns to anyone under 21, while Walmart also said it will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21. In 2015, Walmart ended sales of semiautomatic firearms such as the AR-15, attributing the decision to lower consumer demand.
The moves are both a response to the Parkland shooting and declining sales. In stores like Dick’s, Walmart and Fred Meyer, sales of such firearms have been steadily declining and management believes they can make more profit per square foot of store space by replacing firearms with items that sell faster and have a higher profit margin, like clothing. At Dick’s, it is not clear how many AR-15-style rifles have been sold in recent years as the retailer reports sales in categories such as footwear and apparel in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but has never itemized its hunting business, which includes guns and ammunition. However, analysts estimate that hunting makes up just under 10 percent of the retailer’s sales, with guns and ammunition making up a large part of that.