Almost every day, Amanda Dexter takes to Twitter to chastise one of her favourite stores for carrying Ivanka Trump’s products. Her target is the Hudson’s Bay Company, where she used to shop for everything from housewares to clothing.
Now every time the Bay posts on Twitter a new outfit she likes, Dexter reminds the department store she won’t be buying it.
The resident of Wakefield, Que., also tweets messages to the Bay such as, “You are looking worse and worse. Get on the right side of history by dumping #Trump brand.”
Dexter opposes many of the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump’s father, including his order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
She sees Ivanka Trump as part of her father’s team. “She’s clearly part of what I consider to be the problem,” Dexter says.
To protest the president’s deeply divisive politics, a grassroots campaign known as Grab Your Wallet has been calling for a boycott of retailers carrying Trump merchandise.
Many Canadians are focusing their boycott on the Bay. Their movement has even inspired a Twitter hashtag: #baycott.
Although it’s now American-owned, the department store has a long history in Canada and is considered a cultural icon.
- Bay under pressure to drop Ivanka Trump products
- Nordstrom to stop selling Ivanka Trump products
The Bay has given CBC News no direct indication it plans to drop Ivanka Trump’s line. “We respect our customers’ right to choose the brands that work for them,” it said in an email.
“I think it’s disgraceful,” says Dexter about the retailer’s current position. “I’m very, very disappointed. They don’t seem to be willing to do what seems to me to be a no-brainer.”
The costs of keeping Ivanka Trump
Some other retailers have chosen to part ways with the Trump brand. Department store giant Nordstrom announced this month that it won’t sell this season’s Ivanka Trump merchandise. Neiman Marcus and Burlington Coat Factory have stopped selling her fashions online.
Sears and Kmart have discontinued online sales of 31 items from the Trump Home collection.
But the Bay and its subsidiary Lord & Taylor plus other major U.S. retailers like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond continue to offer Ivanka Trump’s products.
And they continue to get pummeled for it online. Protestors are even using Amazon’s review section to express their displeasure. Nasty comments for a pair of her dress pumps include “In daylight … these shoes appear to have an eerie orange tint” and “All materials are polluted and cheap.”
Committed retailers also face the prospect of sinking sales. Market research company Slice Intelligence found Ivanka Trump’s online sales fell 26 per cent in January compared to January 2016 at five major U.S. retail chains.
“We’ve definitely seen a deterioration of her brand,” Slice analyst Ken Cassar told CBC News from his office in San Mateo, Calif.
Politics and payback
But retailers make decisions to pull a line based on more than potential sales and public sentiment, says Toronto retail analyst Bruce Winder.
He explains that in this situation, politics may also be at play. That’s because nixing Ivanka Trump’s line could raise the ire of the president of the United States.
“They may not want to get President Trump angry,” says Winder, co-founder of the Retail Advisors Network. “They may not want to be one of those visible thorns in his side.”
Nordstrom’s stock value actually climbed that day. But that hasn’t always been the case. After Trump took aim on social media at Lockheed Martin, General Motors and Toyota, all took at least a temporary hit on their stock price.
When it comes to carrying Ivanka Trump’s brand, Winder suggests the thought strategy of retailers like the Bay may be, “This will blow over, this line’s doing OK. We don’t want to irritate the new president.”
Too costly to dump Trump?
Winder says another factor may be how much of Ivanka Trump’s merchandise is still in stock. If a retailer has piles of inventory, dumping it could be costly.
“If they have five years’ supply, then, guess what, they probably want to sell it.”
Winder notes that just because some customers are boycotting Trump’s brand, it doesn’t mean that a store’s entire customer base is onside.
“They would look at, are our customers more Democrat or Republican, because that will take effect,” says Winder.
While Trump product boycotters have praised Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka Trump’s line, not all the retailer’s customers are happy about it.
This week, a video was posted on YouTube showing a group of women closing their accounts at Nordstrom.
Why? “Because they caved,” declares one shopper. “No money for Nordstorm,” she adds, waving a fistful of cash.
The group declares it’s heading to Dillard’s, a U.S. department store that still carries Ivanka Trump’s brand.
So dropping Trump products is not an easy decision for a retailer. But neither is choosing to keep the brand in stock.
“I’ve been telling everyone I know not to shop there,” says Dexter about her chosen target, the Bay.
She’s even convinced her 84-year-old mother to stop shopping there, even though her mom has a $60 credit for the store.
“She said, ‘Damn it, now I can’t use that?'”
I said, ‘Sorry, you can’t.'”