Walmart Returns Firearms, Ammunition Back to Sales Floor

Walmart Inc. is returning firearms and ammunition to its sales floor, reversing a decision from earlier this week.

“After civil unrest earlier this week resulted in damage to several of our stores, consistent with actions we took over the summer, we asked stores to move firearms and ammunition from the sales floor to a secure location in the back of the store in an abundance of caution,” a Walmart spokesman said in an email. “As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today.”

The retail giant also temporarily removed these items this summer during protests following the death of George Floyd by police, a move to dissuade any potential theft if stores were broken into during protests. In both instances, the products were still available for purchase at Walmart locations.

Some company locations in the Philadelphia area were ransacked during protests over after another Black man, Walter Wallace Jr., was killed by police. The move to pull the firearms wasn’t related to preparations for next week’s election, a spokesman said.

Friday Curfew

However, Philadelphia’s situation is still volatile, with the mayor implementing a 9 p.m. curfew on Friday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. But unlike this summer, unrest hasn’t spread to other cities.

Retailers across the board have been preparing for potential unrest during next week’s election. On Election Day, California’s Rodeo Drive will be in lockdown, with cars and pedestrians blocked from its luxury boutiques. Along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, barriers will control crowds.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol told Bloomberg News Friday afternoon his company has “game-planned” in case of violence.

“I really hope it doesn’t result in that. We’re not pro-actively boarding up places by any means. If unfortunately unrest occurs, we have a security plan in place so that our employees are safe and that we can protect our physical assets,” he said.

“One thing I’ve learned in 2020 is I’ve got to be prepared for just about anything,” Niccol added. “A lot of things have happened that I never thought would happen.”

A year ago, Walmart, which only sells firearms in about half its stores, said it would discontinue sales of .223 caliber ammunition and other sizes that can be used in assault-style weapons. It also announced plans to stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still sold them. The moves followed deadly attacks at its stores in Texas and Mississippi that left 24 people dead and reinvigorated debate over gun sales at America’s largest retailer.

The Wall Street Journal reported the news earlier.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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