Target, Amazon Pull Confederate Goods from Sites as Sales Spike - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Target, Amazon Pull Confederate Goods from Sites as Sales Spike on Amazon

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By Zack Guzman

Sales of Confederate flags spiked on Tuesday as big name retailers like Wal-Mart, Sears and eBay dropped their flag-emblazoned products. Target, Amazon and Etsy followed suit Tuesday afternoon.

The retailers' decision came after widespread protest following the massacre at a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.

Target pulled its one obvious Confederate costume from its website after CNBC questioned the retailer about it. A company spokeswoman later said, "Our intention is never to offend. We all recognize the great sensitivity around this and have removed the item from our website."

Reuters reported that Amazon dropped Confederate merchandise. Amazon did not return CNBC's request for comment.

Wal-Mart, Sears and eBay announced their decisions Monday, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called on legislators to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds. After doing so, sales of Confederate flags spiked on Amazon to claim first, second, and third place on the site's list of biggest sales gainers in the previous 24 hours. Prices ranged from under $2 to nearly $16 per flag.

David Simpson, who works at Ruffin Flag Company, the Georgia-based manufacturer that's saw sales of its Confederate flag surge 2,305 percent to top Amazon's patio, lawn and garden Movers & Shakers list, declined to comment on Wal-Mart's move. As for his sales, Simpson would only say, "Of course sales go up when people are talking about it. That much is true with any flag, the same happened with the U.S. flag in 2001."

While it is nearly impossible to quantify the sales of products emblazoned with the symbol of the Confederacy and what economic impact pulling those products will have, demand clearly is still high in pockets of the South for the Stars and Bars and Confederate battle flags. And in facing a possible scarcity of those products, demand has surged beyond what is expected from the American public.

A Public Policy Polling survey taken in the shooting aftermath showed Americans opposed flying the Confederate flag over government buildings by a 3-to-1 margin. More broadly, a 2011 Pew Research poll revealed only 9 percent of Americans reacted favorably to the Confederate flag.



By Joy Y. Wang, CNBC

(CNBC) - Merchandise bearing controversial Confederate flag imagery will soon get harder to find online and on store shelves.

Walmart, the country's largest retailer, will no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise, the company announced in a statement on Monday. Retail company Sears Holding Corp, which operates Kmart and Sears department stores, also said it would remove Confederate flag items sold on its website via third parties, a spokesman told Reuters.

Walmart.com currently offers Confederate flag reproductions, as well as t-shirts, belt buckles, decals and other items that bear the symbol.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, backed by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, on Monday called for the removal of the Confederate flag from outside the state capitol building. The governor's announcement represented a potential turning point in the controversy surrounding the flag, which had long been championed as a symbol of Southern tradition and pride. Following Haley's announcement, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn also said that the emblem is offensive and that it should be removed from his state's flag.

READ MORE | SC governor calls for removal of confederate flag from statehouse grounds 

The calls for the flag's removal as state symbols and the decision by Walmart come in wake of a massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that was reportedly racially motivated. The shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, allegedly cited a white supremacist group in a racist manifesto. He was also pictured holding a Confederate flag — all of which sparked a renewed controversy over the symbol.

“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” Walmart said in a statement released Monday. “We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site. We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances.”

Haley's call for the flag's removal garnered support among numerous Republicans, many of which had tread carefully around the topic previous to the governor's announcement.

Walmart reportedly released the statement in response to an inquiry by CNN. The media outlet also asked Amazon and eBay whether they would stop selling Confederate flag merchandise but did not receive responses from either company.

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