Wal-Mart, Sears Holdings, eBay pull Confederate flag products in the wake of the S.C. shooting

June 23, 2015 12:00 PM

(Bloomberg)—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will remove Confederate flag merchandise from its e-commerce site and stores in the wake of a shooting last week that renewed outcry over the symbol.

“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” Brian Nick, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, said Monday in a statement. “We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment—whether in our stores or on our website.”

Following Wal-Mart’s lead, Sears Holdings Corp., No. 5 in the Top 500 Guide, said Tuesday that it’s pulling Confederate flag merchandise sold by third-party merchants from its Marketplace website. The retailer hasn’t identified any Confederate flag merchandise sold directly by its Sears or Kmart chains, Howard Riefs, a spokesman, said in an email.

EBay Inc. also will ban the sale of Confederate flags from its online marketplace, saying the image has become a symbol of divisiveness and racism.

“We continually monitor the approximately 800 million items on our site, and evaluate our policies to ensure they are consistent with our core purpose,” Johnna Hoff, a spokeswoman for San Jose, Calif.-based eBay, said in a statement Tuesday. “This decision is consistent with our long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence and racial intolerance.”

Confederate flags and other merchandise bearing the flag were easy to find on the Internet marketplace, with some merchants recently selling as many as 30 flags a day, according to sales data on the website.

Wal-Mart has sold a range of Confederate-themed products, including decals, knives and T-shirts. The move to eliminate the merchandise was previously reported by CNN.

“We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell,” Wal-Mart’s Nick said in the statement. “Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly--this is one of those instances.”

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley earlier Monday called for removing the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds. Following the shooting, which killed nine parishioners at a historic black church in the state, the symbol needs to go, she said.

“That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future,” Haley said at a press conference. “By removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony.”




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