Want to #boycottnordstrom?
It seems quite a few people do, at least on social media, judging from the popularity of the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. But in just the last few days, the #boycottnordstrom hashtag has morphed from the rallying cry of those who want Nordstrom to drop the Ivanka Trump line, to those who are angry that the department store just did so.
The switch illustrates what’s becoming a truism of hashtag activism in this increasingly divided political climate: That “if you’re organizing a boycott around a more polarizing issue … you can expect that for any consumer action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction,” as one New York Times writer put it.
Nordstrom said Thursday that it will stop selling Ivanka Trump merchandise this season, after remaining inventory is sold, citing sales performance.
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That move prompted some angry tweets:
But up until just a few days before, the #boycottnordstrom hashtag had been used by those on the opposite side of the issue:
Nordstrom on Thursday said its decision was strictly business, not politics: “We’ve got thousands of brands. … Each year we cut about 10 percent and refresh our assortment with about the same amount. In this case, based on the brand’s performance we’ve decided not to buy it for this season.”
A Nordstrom spokeswoman said the company “can’t speculate as to what impacted performance.”
The company, which is selling its remaining Ivanka Trump inventory but not buying more, did not disclose whether the decision to stop buying Ivanka Trump merchandise is permanent, saying only that “we make buying decisions season by season.”
Nordstrom is one of the companies listed by the Grab Your Wallet campaign, which has urged shoppers to boycott retailers that carry any Trump family products.
Neiman Marcus reportedly also has stopped carrying the line.
Ivanka Trump’s label fired back at the Nordstrom move, saying Nordstrom had ordered both shoes and apparel for spring and then went forward with the apparel purchase.
It also issued a statement touting its sales performance.
“The Ivanka Trump brand continues to expand across categories and distribution with increased customer support, leading us to experience significant year-over-year revenue growth in 2016,” Rosemary Young, senior director of marketing at Ivanka Trump, said in the statement. “We believe that the strength of a brand is measured not only by the profits it generates, but the integrity it maintains. The women behind the brand represent a diverse group of professionals and we are proud to say that the Ivanka Trump brand continues to embody the principles upon which it was founded.”
Before the Ivanka issue bubbled up, Nordstrom’s co-presidents, Pete, Erik and Blake Nordstrom, meanwhile, last week sent a message to employees in response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning entry into the U.S. from seven mainly Muslim countries.
The note talked of founder John W. Nordstrom’s roots as an immigrant from Sweden and how that shaped the culture of the company.
“We currently employ more than 76,000 people who comprise different races, ethnicities and genders,” the note says. “We literally have thousands of employees who are first and second generation immigrants. Every one of your unique qualities brings a richness that allows us to better reflect and serve the multi-cultured communities we’re a part of and ultimately makes us a better company. We are a better place with you here, no doubt about it. … It’s important that we reiterate our values to all of you and make it clear that we support each of our employees. We will continue to value diversity, inclusion, respect, and kindness… you can count on that.”
Of course, Nordstrom is not the only locally based company facing calls for boycotts.
Starbucks has been the recipient of a number of such calls to #boycottstarbucks over the years, most recently over the company’s decision to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years. But even as those against the coffee company’s hiring of refugees urged #boycottstarbucks, others opposed to Trump’s immigration ban used the hashtag to show support for the coffee company.