February 8, 2017

So Nordstrom (and Neiman Marcus) decide to drop Ivanka Trump's clothing line and Donald gets bent out of shape and tweets about it.

Conflict of interest? Picking "winners and losers"? Ya think?

CNBC is about providing news for stockholders, not politicos, so they won't touch that question. But their retail analyst Richard Jaffe didn't mince words about Nordstrom making decisions based on company profits. You know, like maybe Donald Trump does.

JAFFE: I can't speak to the president. I know Nordstrom well and they make very cool and rational decisions. it's about product and about sales through and about profitability. it's not personal. it's product. >> is that a function of what some have tried to put together as boycott or is this just part of normal turn? >> this is normal turn. Nordstrom changes their product seasonally. they change their brand seasonally. it makes it a more exciting place to shop and more profitable business for shareholders. as an investor and analyst I wouldn't have it any other way. They need to cull the lesser brands and bring in new fresh brands.

CNBC: Richard, hard to look at tweet from the president that's negative as being potentially positive for a company. But based on who Nordstrom's core customer is and political atmosphere here, is there much risk for Nordstrom or might it work the other way? If the president is seen as being somehow against Nordstrom could that help them with certain segments of their customer base?

JAFFE: I will turn that over to your political analyst. I do know as a retail analyst the consumer is in the store to be inspired, to find exciting new fashions. That's Nordstrom's job, to provide that. and if they're doing it by switching Ivanka out for something new and more exciting, they win.

CNBC asks the question because that's all anyone in retail is talking about these days. The Superbowl ads this year had a decidedly anti-Trump edge, and just like CNBC, it's not like retailers and advertisers get all political because they're good people.

It turns out that anti-Trump dollar is a good dollar.

The Economist (UK) wrote yesterday that "Travel firms can afford to upset supporters of President Trump":

Companies often try to stay out of politics for fear of losing customers. America is a polarised country, and an appeal to one side of the political divide can quickly alienate the other. But in the travel and transportation industry, the story is more complicated, particularly in the contentious Trump era. America may be split close to 50-50, but the urban professionals who comprise such a large share of the country’s travellers (and Uber-hailers) are not. Just 10% of Manhattanites voted for Mr Trump. In San Francisco, 9% did. In Washington, DC it was 4%.

In this environment, staying neutral over the biggest political controversies, such as the travel ban, can be more dangerous to a company than taking sides; losing a moderate share of the big anti-Trump majorities in these places is a bigger risk than losing a larger share of the small group of his supporters. Uber didn’t immediately grasp this lesson. But Lyft, its smaller rival, did. After the immigration order was executed, the firm quickly announced a $1m donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, which was fighting the ban. Hordes of progressive Uber users made the switch to Lyft.

And if Trump was trying to fire a stock price warning shot over the bow of other retailers? FAIL.

And in related news, Breitbart boycotts are also yuuge fails:

UPDATE: Spicer pushed out to the podium to make some point about this. That settles it?

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