Democrats Take Positive View of Walmart in Reversal for Retailer

(Bloomberg) -- Walmart Inc., which has taken more progressive stands on everything from worker pay to gay rights in recent years, has won over the majority of Democrats -- a reversal for a retailer that has long been a Republican favorite.

Almost 52 percent of people who identify as Democrats would consider shopping at the company, according to a report from the YouGov BrandIndex. That’s up about 8 percentage points from five years ago. The support of Republicans has stayed solidly above 65 percent.

The question now is how much of that mind-set change will show up in Walmart sales. Democrats may be ready to spend more at the chain’s stores, said Ted Marzilli, YouGov’s chief of data products.

“Even small increases in consideration can flow through to sales in a considerable way,” Marzilli said in an interview.

Walmart was once pilloried by Democrats as a symbol of corporate greed. But the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has taken a bigger role in raising the pay for low-wage employees and added benefits such as parental leave. In 2015, it also sided against legislation that created the potential for hiring discrimination among LGBT applicants.

More recently, it raised the minimum age for buying guns to 21 from 18, a move that followed a February school shooting in Florida.

That said, Walmart’s brand remains more popular with Republicans than Democrats. And Republicans are more inclined to shop at the stores than their further-left counterparts, YouGov said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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