Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will remove Confederate flag merchandise from stores and its e-commerce site in the wake of a shooting last week that renewed outcry over the symbol.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” Brian Nick, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer, said Monday in a statement. “We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment -- whether in our stores or on our website.”
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley earlier in the day called for removing the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds. Following the shooting, which killed nine parishioners at a historic black church in the state, the symbol needs to go, she said.
“That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future,” Haley said at a press conference. “By removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony.”
Following Wal-Mart’s lead, Sears Holdings Corp. said that it’s pulling Confederate flag merchandise sold by third-party merchants from its Marketplace website. The retailer hasn’t identified any Confederate flag merchandise sold directly by its Sears or Kmart chains, Howard Riefs, a spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Wal-Mart has sold a range of Confederate-themed products, including decals, knives and T-shirts. The move to eliminate the merchandise was previously reported by CNN.
“We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell,” Wal-Mart’s Nick said in the statement. “Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly -- this is one of those instances.”