Is Woolworths’ Australia Day Ban Backfiring?

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk into a Woolworths supermarket in Sydney, Australia August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Conservative commentators have claimed that the choice not to stock Australia Day merchandise has led to a $2 billion decrease in the value of Woolies shares over the past week.

Woolworths last week announced that it would not be stocking Australia Day merchandise in any of its stores in the lead-up to the controversial day. But has the decision backfired on the supermarket giant?

The decision has led to an outpouring of negative sentiment toward the company, with conservative commentators now claiming that the decision has led to a decline in share prices.

“GO WOKE, GO BROKE,” former Liberal MP and now United Australia Party affiliate Craig Kelly declared on social media yesterday. “Since announcing their ban on selling Australia Day merchandise, Woolworths shares have crashed 4.47 per cent – that’s around $2 billion wiped off the value of the Woolworths shares,” he said in a post to X (formerly Twitter).

The leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, last week slammed the ban from Woolworths, calling instead for a boycott of the retail giant. In a social post, Dutton accused Woolworths of “peddling woke agendas”.

A number of Queensland stores were also recently vandalised off the back of the decision. “Aussie Oi Oi Oi Woolies F*** U” was written in spray paint across the front of the Woolworth Tenerife store this week, and a flare was placed at the entrance, triggering the fire alarms.

 

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 While the opinions of those on one side of politics or another have been made clear, the direct financial result for Woolworths remains up for debate.

The seemingly distressing graphic (below) shared widely on social media does, of course, leave out crucial information, like the fact that Woolworths shares were much lower in late November, months before the Australia Day decision was made, reports News.com.au.

Interestingly, Coles has recorded an even sharper decrease despite announcing last week that it will stock a range of Australia Day merchandise. The supermarket chain experienced a 5.03 per cent fall in share prices over the past five days, News.com.au reports.

 

Dr Craig Emerson, an economist and former Labor MP and minister, has been recently been appointed by the government to lead a review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct. Kos Samaras, the director of the polling firm RedBridge, said that the fall is likely a result of this upcoming review along with a general fall in the stock market.

The holiday has been a date of much contention for many years now, with the public holiday recognised as a day of mourning among Indigenous communities, marking the day the British colonised Australia and invaded Indigenous land. Last Friday, Aldi announced that it would also be joining Woolworths in not stocking Australia Day merchandise in the lead-up to January 26.




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