Pressure mounts for retailers like The Bay to dump Trump products after tariff spat | CBC News
The recent tariff dispute between Canada and U.S. has sparked a renewed call to boycott stores carrying Trump family merchandise.
“I think it was the last straw,” said Sharon Shannon in Abbotsford, B.C., who has pledged to no longer shop at the Hudson’s Bay Co. or Winners until they stop selling Ivanka Trump fashions. “The only way we can voice our displeasure is to keep our business away.”
List of Trump-friendly retailers
Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports, social entrepreneur and Maclean’s writer Scott Gilmore compiled a list of companies to boycott, all of which carry Trump merchandise.
“Whatever the reason, you’re reading this because you want to hit back and hurt Trump in the only place he cares about — his wallet,” Gilmore wrote.
To create some economic pressure on @realDonaldTrump I’ll boycott the following companies in Canada carrying Trump products. I encourage other Canadians to do same. Please RT @hudsonsbay @WalmartCanada @WINNERS and @WholeFoods Together we can exert significant economic pressure
The campaign is similar to one started last year in the U.S. called #GrabYourWallet.
Gilmore’s list highlights the Bay, plus other retailers prominent in Canada, including Winners, Walmart and online giant Amazon. They mainly carry clothes and/or accessories from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
Just before her father’s inauguration, Ivanka Trump announced in a Facebook post that she would take a leave of absence from her brand, stepping away from both management and operations, as she readied to move to Washington. But she still owns the company, profits from it and sports its merchandise.
The Maclean’s list has been widely circulated on social media with many Canadians pledging to take part. The Bay in particular is being targeted because, even though it is now U.S.-owned, Canadians still see it as part of our country’s fabric.
“It’s just so ingrained in Canada and Canadian values,” said Shannon, who recently informed the Bay on Facebook she’s boycotting the department store.
“The fact that you are the iconic Canadian company, I respectfully request that you stop selling any items that will profit the Trump family,” she wrote.
Tariffs cited as reason for boycott
Shannon told CBC News she feels the boycott is the only way she, as a Canadian, can voice her concerns about Trump’s divisive policies — including the recent tariffs and his administration’s decision to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It’s my only way of protesting.”
Push back against his tariffs! Let’s start by not buying Trump family stuff! Like Ivanka’s dresses and shoes sold in Canada by The Bay. Boycott #TheBay until they stop supporting the Trumps. pic.twitter.com/eov9FSTEOj
Ryan Coffey, in Nanaimo, B.C., has also targeted the Bay by emailing the retailer, saying he will boycott the department store until it publicly announces it will no longer carry Trump products.
He said he disagrees with many of Trump’s policies, including the recent tariffs, which he deems a personal attack on Canada. “It feels a little different because it’s actually toward us.”
Coffey called his decision to join the boycott was “the natural next step.”
Bay stays neutral
Hudson’s Bay Co. gave no direct indication if it would drop Ivanka Trump products in an email to CBC News on Monday.
“We respect our customers’ right to choose the brands that work for them. In turn, our customers’ choices inform our decisions on which merchandise we offer,” spokesperson Tiffany Bourré said via email.
Walmart, Winners and Amazon didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In response to Coffey’s email, the Bay told him: “We are sorry to hear that you are disappointed with the decision to carry this brand.” It also said it would take his concerns into consideration.
So will the latest boycott have any effect? Last year, at the height of the #GrabYourWallet campaign, Ivanka Trump goods began disappearing from some stores, including Nordstrom, although the retailer said the decision was based on sales performance and not a political position. Neiman Marcus and Burlington Coat Factory also stopped selling her fashions online.
According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump products aren’t faring so well, either. It recently reported that, over the past three years, the number of companies paying to produce or distribute Trump-branded merchandise declined from 19 to two.
Trump products falling out of fashion
But marketing expert Marvin Ryder doesn’t believe the decline of Trump goods has anything to do with boycotts. Instead, he says they’re simply falling out of fashion.
“You might think now that Donald Trump is president: ‘Doesn’t everyone want to dress like Ivanka?’ And the answer is no,” said Ryder, a business professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“There’s no point boycotting Trump merchandise because it’s self-destructing. It’s not going to be here very much longer.”
CBC News scoped out the Bay’s flagship store in downtown Toronto and discovered that, compared to last year, Ivanka Trump’s jewelry was no longer prominently displayed and wall signage advertising her clothing had disappeared.
According to Toronto-based strategy adviser Mark Satov, boycotts generally don’t work. If the Bay has reduced Ivanka Trump’s merchandise, it’s because consumers simply aren’t buying it, he said.
“I think the brand is not strong because more people have a negative association with it than a positive association with it, especially in Canada,” said Satov.
“If you want to buy it, the store’s going to sell it.”