The year couldn’t end without a holiday retail faux pas from a free-wheeling mega-chain with recurrent issues with third party sellers, now could it?
The extremely ugly piece of clothing in question is a red, white, and blue sweater showing Santa Claus sitting at a coffee table with a pile of something white and three white lines in front of him. The subtle messaging on the wearable item? A cheery line that reads “Let It Snow.”
In a statement published Saturday, the corporation attempted to pass the blame off on a third party seller that had put the sweaters up for sale on Walmart Marketplace.
“These sweaters, sold by a third-party seller on [Walmart Canada’s website], do not represent Walmart’s values and have no place on our website,” the company wrote. “We have removed these products from our marketplace. We apologize for any unintended [offense] this may have caused.”
It’s certainly not the first time that the big-box retailer has been forced to pull products from the shelves after they’ve caused an uproar. Walmart is well known for its battles against music deemed too explicit in lyrical content, but those aren’t the only battles that have been waged on its massive shopping floors. Indeed, offensive products from all corners of the social imagination have made appearances at the chain.
Offensive Products a Recurring Issue
This very holiday season, another third party seller was offering ornaments with scenes from the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp, the site of the murder of some one million Jewish people during the Holocaust. The products were removed after the Auschwitz Memorial raised concern about their sale on social media.
Walmart has occasionally shown questionable politics when it comes to the products they have chosen to remove from store shelves and their online shopping features. In 1995, the company temporarily canceled a shirt that was being sold in Miami area stores with the slogan “Someday a Woman Will Be President.” The brand initially said that it was not in keeping with “the company’s family values.”
Other items that Walmart has pulled from sale include those that sexualize children, including a “naughty leopard” toddlers costume and junior underwear reading “Who needs credit cards…When you have Santa.”
In 2003, the store took Maxim, Stuff, and FHM magazines off the shelves because they were deemed too explicit for Walmart family fare. (They’ve also declined to sell Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition.)
In 2007, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann bridled at the inclusion of a fake McLovin’ Hawaii driver’s license that was included with for-purchase copies of Superbad. Walmart agreed to pull the DVD from the shelves.
In 2017, the store was discovered hawking t-shirts that read “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.” That same year, yet another third party seller (who are these guys?) posted a brown cap that had a highly random and unnecessary racial slur included in its product description.
“We are investigating the seller to determine how this could have happened,” said a Walmart representative at the time of the racist hat cancellation.
Apparently, the investigation is ongoing.