Feb 12, 2017
Defections by Sears, Kmart cap week of controversy for Trump brands
Feb 12, 2017
Trump-branded consumer products have suffered new blows, with U.S. retailers Sears Holdings Corp and Kmart Corp discontinuing online sales of 31 Trump Home items, while new details emerged showing sales of Ivanka Trump's brand fell in the weeks before Nordstrom Inc stopped carrying her products.
Sears and Kmart disclosed their decision on Saturday, even as the Wall Street Journal reported that Nordstrom sales of Ivanka Trump's brand had dropped sharply before the retailer discontinued sales this week.
Citing internal Nordstrom data, the Journal reported sales of Ivanka Trump-branded clothing and shoes had dropped more than 70 percent in the second, third and fourth week of October compared with the same weeks the previous year. The election was held on Nov. 8.
The developments were the latest in a week of controversy swirling around commercial activity connected to the Trump name. And the moves may be a rare sign of companies taking calculated risks in making business decisions that might invite criticism from President Donald Trump's Twitter account.
Neil Stern, a retail consultant for McMillan Doolittle, said Nordstrom may have felt insulated given its stores tend to be located in cities and affluent suburbs, which tend to tack Democratic. “If there is a political blowback they will survive it given where there stores are,” he said.
For Sears, which last month announced plans to close 150 stores, any publicity that draws attention away from the retailer's financial struggles is welcome, Stern added.
On Friday, three athletes sponsored by Under Armour Inc took to social media to distance themselves from comments by the company's chief executive, Kevin Plank, in support of President Trump.
Earlier in the week, a congressional committee said it was seeking a review into whether the senior White House adviser had violated ethics rules by using her position to promote Ivanka Trump's product lines.
Prior to Conway's comments, Donald Trump used Twitter to defend his daughter in the wake of Nordstrom's decision to discontinue her product line. White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the Nordstrom move as a "direct attack" on the president's policies.
Speaking on the ABC's "This Week" program on Sunday, White House aide Stephen Miller said Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was making a "light-hearted, flippant" comment when she urged Americans to buy Ivanka Trump's products.
Neither Sears nor Kmart carried the Trump Home products in their retail stores, a Sears Holdings Corp spokesman said. Kmart is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings.
"As part of the company’s initiative to optimise its online product assortment, we constantly refine that assortment to focus on our most profitable items," spokesman Brian Hanover said in a statement.
"Amid that streamlining effort, 31 Trump Home items were among the items removed online this week," he said, adding those items can be found through a third-party vendor, without providing additional information about the products.
The Trump Home collection includes lines of furniture, bedding and lighting, often from makers that supply Trump hotels, according to the collection's website.
Nordstrom, in announcing the discontinuation of Ivanka Trump's line last week, said sales had "steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense" to continue selling the products.
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