For some shoppers, politics play into buying decisions


Elaine Blackman stopped shopping at her beloved Nordstrom after learning the retailer sold Ivanka Trump‘s fashion line, joining an organized boycott.

“It was because of what the brand stands for,” she said. “As long as they carry Trump brands and products, I won’t shop there.”

The 65-year-old retired federal worker from Burtonsville likes to think her actions made a difference. Nordstrom dropped the line earlier this year, citing weak sales, and Blackman has resumed shopping at its stores.

But Nordstrom’s decision to dump the brand created by President Donald Trump’s daughter struck a nerve in Michelle Kissling, who went to Amazon and Lord & Taylor, and bought Ivanka perfume and earrings, two pair of shoes and a coat.

“Politics should be left out of the stores,” the Severn woman said.

Blackman and Kissling may be worlds apart in their political beliefs, but in a divided nation they’re on the same page in one way β€” how they decide where to shop. The two women are among the growing ranks of consumers who choose retailers and brands based on their apparent political leaning and shun those that conflict with their beliefs.

For the businesses targeted by Grab Your Wallet, “it’s naive to think they can get involved with a divisive … figure and have it not come back on their brands,” said Shannon Coulter, a marketing agency owner who started the movement with a grandmother from California during the presidential campaign.

After Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s line, the retailer responded to the conservative backlash by saying the decision was based on declining sales, part of regular review of thousands of brands it sells.

The move infuriated Cheryl Lewandowski, a consulting company manager who often buys designer clothes and shoes at Nordstrom. Views expressed by executives at Uber and Starbucks have turned her off to those brands, too.

“I don’t appreciate companies shoving their ideologies down my throat,” said Lewandowski, 49, of Caldwell, N.J. “It’s bullying behavior, punishing the daughter because you don’t like her father. It’s disgusting to me. I cut up my Nordstrom card.

“I don’t need companies telling me how I should feel, where I should shop and who I should vote for,” she said.

When a boycott flares, some companies overreact rather than waiting to see if it blows overs, Taub said.

He would have advised Nordstrom to “hang tight” and tell customers “we don’t play favorites politically,” which is the approach taken by Wegman’s at its Virginia stores that carry wines from Trump Winery. The Trump wine is among more than 200 wines from dozens of Virginia wineries sold in those stores.

If shoppers refuse to buy a product and that leads to a sales decrease, the grocer will discontinue it, the company said. But since the start of the boycott, the Wegmans’ Virginia stores have sold out of Trump wine and plan to restock it.

“Our role as a retailer is to offer choice to our customers,” the grocer’s statement said. “How a product performs is our single measure for what stays on our shelves and what goes.”

It remains to be seen whether shoppers remain committed to current boycotts and whether they have the intended effects, King said.

“People are polarized and highly motivated to do something,” he said. “Pro-Trump and anti-Trump both feel under attack, and it may increase the extent to which they are mobilized to express themselves publicly. It may be the case where they do follow through.”

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com



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