North America

Kmart joins US retail stores to drop 'Trump' brand items

US retailers Kmart and Sears will stop selling 'Trump Home' branded items. Source: AP

Two major US retailers, including Kmart, are also discontinuing selling items bearing the ‘Trump’ brand name.

The list of American retailers to no longer sell ‘Trump’ products is growing.

Kmart and Sears have added their names to that list, announcing they will discontinue online sales of 31 ‘Trump Home’ items.

However, neither company confirmed the decision was done as a boycott against US President Donald Trump.

A Sears Holding spokesman said the decision was based on a “streamlining effort”.

"As part of the company’s initiative to optimise its online product assortment, we constantly refine that assortment to focus on our most profitable items," spokesman Brian Hanover said in a statement.

Neither Sears nor Kmart carry Trump Home products in their retail stores.

It caps a week of controversy for Trump brands, and another blow to the US President.

Department store chain Nordstrom last week dropped Ivanka Trump-branded clothing and shores. Fellow stores Neiman Marcus and Belk also joined suit.

Ivanka Trump shoes are on display at the Pentagon city Nordstrom
Nordstrom's sales of Ivanka Trump's products fell by nearly one-third in the past fiscal year. (AAP)

Like Sears, Nordstrom and Belk both said the decision was based on product performance.

Leading Australian economist, Professor Tim Harcourt from the University of New South Wales, told SBS News the perceived boycotts were a dangerous move.

“Dropping the lines is a bit like boycotting an election," he said.

"You never really know what the result would have been, so they run the risk of actually helping the Trump brand in that way.

“The risk they run is their stores get boycotted by hard-lined Trump supporters. So there could be some retaliation in the same way as if Trump boycotted or put tariffs on Chinese products.

“America is such a divided electorate now that if you get a boycott or you get a surge, you’re more likely going to get a boycott of the retail brand.”

Marketing Professor Lilliana Bove from the University of Melbourne explained that pulling the ‘Trump’ brands due to poor sale was “quite legitimate”.

But, she said, “there’s a danger” if it was pulled as a political strategy.

“She [Ivanka] may have had loyal customers that would be fairly annoyed that the retailers decided not to stock her brands, and therefore they would be looking elsewhere,” Professor Bove told SBS News.

“If they’re not coming into the store because their favourite brand has been pulled out, then there’s lost opportunity to sell more things to them.”

Professor Harcourt said keeping the ‘Trump’ brand on shelves may have been a stronger move.

“If they just sold the items and they didn’t sell very well, then that would probably do more damage and prestige to the Trump brand and the family than to drop the lines altogether,” he said.

“So it may just be a bit of a gesture to dominate the media cycle for 24 hours. I think in some ways it’s better for consumer democracy to play its role.”

Mr Trump attacked Nordstrom last week via Twitter when the store announced it was dropping his daughter's products.

“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom," he tweeted. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

Professor Harcourt believes Kmart and Sears may soon suffer the same condemnation, and could also aggravate the Trump Administration

“They’ve run that risk. I think they’ve probably put some thought into what they’re doing though, so they’re prepared to wear it.”

trump kmart sears nordstrom sales
Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway has come under fire for publicly endorsing Ivanka Trump's clothing line.
Getty Images

Last week, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer called the boycotts “a direct attack”, while advisor Kellyanne Conway urged people to buy Ivanka Trump’s product during a television news interview.

“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Ms Conway told Fox News last week.

“I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody.”

Ms Conway’s public endorsement was dubbed by detractors as an ethics violation, since federal employees are barred from using their position to promote products.

The Trump counsellor was counselled by the White House as a result, with a congressional committee reviewing whether she breached the rules.

- with Reuters

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