Bentonville, AR-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Monday that it will no longer sell reproductions of the Confederate battle flag or any merchandise with the flag on it.
Sears Holdings Corp. also said that it won’t allow sellers on its Shop Your Way marketplace, which caters to Sears and Kmart customers online, to sell items with the Confederate symbol.
UPDATE: eBay, Amazon, Target, and Etsy also announced Tuesday that they will discontinue selling Confederate flag-themed items.
With the arrest of a white supremacist who invoked the Confederate flag as part of his racist manifesto in the massacre of churchgoers at a Charleston, SC, historic black church last week, politicians and other high-profile Southerners who in the past have defended the flag as innocuous yesterday said that the flag's role in hate-based communications and crimes has overwhelmed any other meaning.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican who once defended flying the flag on the Capitol grounds, called for its removal Monday, and a top Mississippi Republican for the first time said the state’s flag should be re-designed to remove the Confederate symbol.
Retailers are often slow to move when it comes to major social change, preferring to wait until a cultural moment is well established as a new norm. As the world’s largest retailer whose headquarters are in the heart of the South, however, Wal-Mart is making a strong move that will likely help the momentum toward the removal of the Confederation flag from other retailers' websites and stores.