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When Dick's Sports Goods pulls weapons from shelves, retailers ask if firearms are still sports equipment

A shopper goes in the direction of a Dick's Sports Goods Store in Frankfort, Ky. (Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg)

Dick's Sporting Goods announced this week it will pull weapons and ammunition from the shelves to 125 of its 720 stores.

The move comes as Dick, the nation's largest sports dealer, is being pushed by special competitors and ledgers who want to claim a piece of the ever-growing "athleisure" market. It also came before the last episode of terrible weaponry that left 49 dead in two mosques in New Zealand.

The decision is part of a trend that redefines what belongs to a sports store, experts say.

Where once outdoor consumers gather for fishing gear, tents and shotguns, parents and children gather for sneakers, soccer balls and their favorite t-shirt.

"Dick is really the last man to stand among the national sports chains and what you see doing is adjusting his goods to meet consumer preferences in a changing retail landscape," said Brian Nagel, senior analyst at the investment bank Oppenheimer.

And to a large extent, gun buyers will not sport goods stores like Dick are for their firearms. Only 6 percent of the gun purchases bought their weapons from sports dealers in 2018, according to Southwick Associates' segment of the segmentation in the firearms market.

Instead, more than one in three purchased weapons from local weapons-specific stores and more than 15 percent bought them online. Gun buyers were also twice as likely to buy from an outdoor specialty store, such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela or Field & Stream, than a general sports store.

That's because the business of selling and buying – a gun is more like it with other complex outdoor items, such as kayaks or bikes, experts say. Consumers will often test how a gun fits and feels. They may have questions about use and care and need to consult store classes.

"Guns are a real technical product. The range of choices is quite enormous. Add the amount of accessories and ammunition that goes with it," says Marc Cohen, director of detail studies at Columbia University Business School. "Customers gravitate based on their prospects to the most convenient location. They've probably gravitated away from Dick for a few years. "

And the sale of weapons is an expensive business. A salesman knowledgeable about weapons costs more to hire than a knowledgeable about baseball bats," said Cohen. Staff training to comply with federal and state laws that govern firearms has many resources. They are also quite large, taking up a lot of shelf space that can be used for other products that are easier to sell.

Ed Stack, Dick's chairman and chief executive, had stopped the company and weapons with high capacity magazine after school shooting in Parkland, Fla. ., in February 2018. The statesman bought a gun legally at a Dicks place before the attack, but did not use the appropriate firearm in the attack.

But this week's decision is not politically, Stack told investors in a earnings call on Tuesday.

"This is about to have productive space," he said. "There are some places where hunting is very good, elsewhere it is not very good. And we only allocate floor space to make [products] more productive. "

The sports sector has found that production is in fashion and athleisure, instead of outdoor activities, and especially hunting," said Neil Saudners, CEO of Global Retail Data. A customer can have a Nike sweatshirt with the favorite team logo pretty much Anywhere. They can only use a gun to do one thing. "The traditional definition of sports equipment is products you have used for sports or other recreational activities, and now there has been a merger with fashion," he said. You have many more people who can wear sports tops to wear, or who wants to buy sneakers for fashion. I think it has confused the category a little. "

Dick's decision to release weapons is a statement that sporting goods are no longer necessarily about the equipment needed for sports, and more about the elements associated with the most popular sports, including prominent teams and athletes.

Dick Setter slowly out of the outdoor market, said Cohen, hoping for this strategic trend there will not be too many customers behind.

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