American retailers get involved in politics, should New Zealand follow?

  • Opinion
  • February 16, 2017
  • Courtney Devereux
American retailers get involved in politics, should New Zealand follow?

Since US President Donald Trump’s inauguration his policies and actions have seldom been out of the news, or the mouths of people across the world. And the latest people to fight back are retail stores.

After Trumps so called ‘Muslim ban’ popular chain store Starbucks protested by pledging to only hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.

Starbucks wasn’t the only store to openly express it’s distain for the new president. Retailers Apple, Nike and Adidas among many other firms chose to publicly oppose Trump's policy, pole-vaulting the line which normally stops large businesses getting involved.

This is an unusual move for retailers, who usually chose to remain unbiased as not to harm sales or profit. But many campaigns such as ‘Stop Funding Hate’ and ‘Grab Your Wallet’ have out pressure upon retailers to chose a side.

Professor Cathy Parker, an expert in retail enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University says that with the amount of refugees employed in America, they are reluctant to put the livelihood of their employees at risk.

“The large-scale and vocal protest against the ban has forced companies into getting off the political fence,” Says Parker.

“Otherwise they are unwittingly looking like they are siding with Trump - by not having an opinion, and they don't want to risk a consumer boycott.” Says Parker

Uber services lost Three million US Dollars after CEO Travis Kalanick did not criticise the Trump travel ban explicitly enough.  

New Zealand retail services will also be expected to boycott or discontinue any or all merchandise that protestors see unacceptable to have. For example, Trump or Ivanka clothing lines.

As larger chains begin to speak up, New Zealand retail stores should expect to be involved as the new regulations move in. It is up to retailers to decide to play it safe and remain unbiased or to chose a standpoint to operate from.

No matter how controversial, there will be a group of people opposed to their viewpoint, not least the government itself. 

However, hypocrisy will lose customers on all sides of the political spectrum.

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