Sears and Kmart remove some Trump products online

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NEW YORK -- Sears and Kmart have evicted "a very small number" of Trump-branded items from their online stores but won't specify how many and emphasize hundreds of products still are available through their third-party online marketplaces.

It's another sign of how companies are trying to tread a careful line after President Donald Trump rebuked Nordstrom publicly on his Twitter account for deciding to stop selling his daughter Ivanka Trump's clothing and accessories line.

He said Nordstrom had treated his daughter "so unfairly." Ethics experts saw the comment as a threat to companies that carry the brand and may weigh the question of whether to keep doing so.

Nordstrom had said in its announcement the move was based on the brand's falling sales over the past year, particularly in the last six months.

A social-media campaign called "Grab Your Wallet" has urged a boycott of stores that stock Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump products, which include Amazon and Dillard's.

Other companies that have scaled back or dropped Trump merchandise hope to avoid a backlash or boycott threats Nordstrom saw, issuing brief, careful statements if they address the mater at all.

Belk said it no longer will carry Ivanka Trump items on its website, and QVC has said it no longer sells the merchandise.

Macy's, which carries the Ivanka Trump brand, hasn't responded to queries by The Associated Press.

Lord & Taylor only has said it carries the brand.

This tiptoeing is in response to politically active shoppers who are using purchasing power to punish retailers or reward them based on their political beliefs, a trend that has become more high-profile with Donald Trump's presidency.

Sears' announcement Monday followed weekend reports it had dropped 31 Trump products from its website. The company did not respond to queries and referred questions for specifics back to a statement.

"We, like all retailers, constantly add and remove products from our offerings," Sears spokesman Chris Brathwaite said on the company's blog. "In this case, certain products were removed from our websites that included a very small number of Trump products. But any fair observer who searches for Trump or Ivanka Trump on Sears.com would find hundreds of products available for purchase."

Sears can ill-afford to alienate customers. The faltering retail chain said last week it may sell more locations, cut more jobs and put more of its famous brands on the block. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer has been losing money for years and has received millions from its hedge fund-founder CEO to keep it afloat. Brathwaite said the company monitors products, adding items that are in demand and removing products with declining demand.

The Ivanka Trump brand has said it saw sales growth of 21 percent in 2016 from the previous year as it expanded its categories, distribution and offerings. "In recent days, we've seen our brand swept into the political fray, becoming collateral damage in others' efforts to advance agendas unrelated to what we do," the company said.

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