Dick's Sporting Goods appears to be on the upswing.
After a slog of dampened sales, Dick's announced Thursday, Aug. 22, that same store sales jumped 3.2 percent in the second quarter - marking its strongest showing since 2016. The outdoor retailer's stock was up more than 4 percent as Dick's raised its full year guidance.
Company chief executive Ed Stack said the performance was driven by increases in average tickets, plus solid results from its hard line merchandise, apparel and footwear.
"Our key strategies and investments are working, our major head winds are behind us and we've bent the curve on sales," Stack said in a statement. "We are very enthusiastic about our business and are pleased to increase our full year sales and earnings outlook."
The earnings suggest critics have abandoned, or possibly forgotten, any consternation toward the retailer, which overhauled its gun sales policies in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., and removed all guns out of dozens of stores this year. On Thursday, Dick's said it was "continuing the strategic review of its hunt business," including at its Field & Stream stores, which specialize in fishing, outdoor and hunting gear.
Dick's' assessment of its own sales policies comes as retailers are under acute pressure to act on gun reform, especially in the absence of any congressional movement. This month alone, two Walmart stores became the scenes of deadly shootings in El Paso and Southaven, Miss., spurring calls for the megastore to stop selling firearms and ammunition. Walmart sells guns in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores. After 17 students and teachers were killed in Parkland, Walmart raised the minimum age for gun purchases from 18 to 21.
Stack and other executives cautioned against pinning the company's earnings to recent changes to its gun sales policies. Still, Stack said firearms had been a weak spot for the company, particularly as gun sales are down nationwide.
"We have this under review and as soon as we decide what we're going to do and how we're going to do it, we'll let you know," Stack said in a call to analysts.
In March, Dick's removed guns from 125 stores out of its total fleet of roughly 730. Stack told The Post earlier this year that Dick's was considering whether to add more locations to that roster, depending on how the 125 locations perform. On Thursday, Dick's President Lauren Hobart said it was too soon to gauge the success of those 125 stores.
In a pilot program in 2018, Dick's took all guns out of 10 stores and filled the empty space with products targeted for those markets, such as sports team merchandise. Those 10 stores outperformed the rest of the chain and have continued to deliver, the company said. Dick's has never disclosed what share of its sales come from gun sales alone.
After the Parkland shooting last year, Stack announced that Dick's was pulling all assault-style weapons from its stores and banning high-capacity magazines and "bump stocks" that could effectively convert semiautomatic weapons into machine guns. He also announced that Dick's would not sell firearms to people under 21.
Those decisions sparked boycotts from customers nationwide. More than 60 employees quit. For the fiscal year ending Feb. 2, 2019, same-store sales fell 3.1 percent, according to company earnings, with Stack blaming much of the slump on gun issues. When Dick's hired lobbyists on gun legislation, one of the company's gun suppliers said it would no longer sell to the company directly.
Yet Dick's' stake in gun issues goes beyond corporate policies. Stack has made gun reform a personal priority, meeting with congressional leaders and the parents of Parkland victims alike. (Shortly after the Parkland shooting, Stack learned that the gunman had previously bought a shotgun from a Dick's store, though it was not the weapon used in the rampage.)
"What I promised the families in Parkland when I left is that we would keep this conversation going," Stack told The Post earlier this year. "And that's what I've done."