Walmart pulls Cosmo magazine from its checkout lines

Key Points
  • Walmart is pulling Cosmopolitan Magazine from its checkout aisles.
  • The retailer called the decision "primarily a business decision" and said it will still sell Cosmo magazines in its stores.
  • The move was cheered by advocacy group The National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Check out counters in Walmart.
Jeffrey Greenberg | UIG | Getty Images

Walmart is pulling Cosmopolitan Magazine from its checkout lines.

The magazine that made its name with provocative covers will no longer be found in Walmart on sale at the checkout lines, a move that the company is calling a "business decision" but which one advocacy group is touting as a victory against sexual exploitation.

Cosmopolitan, owned by Hearst Communications, describes itself as a "bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 18 million readers a month." In its early days, it made a splash with its provocative covers and sex advice for readers. It has been critiqued for marrying its racier content with young starlets on its covers.

In an emailed statement to CNBC on Tuesday night, Walmart said it "will continue to offer Cosmopolitan to customers that wish to purchase the magazine, but it will no longer be located in the checkout aisles."

"While this was primarily a business decision, the concerns raised were heard," it said.

Advocacy group National Center on Sexual Exploitation hailed the decision as victory against "Cosmo's hypersexualized and degrading article titles" that it says promote pornography and other offenses, in a statement posted on its website.

The group, founded in 1962, has as one of its center issues the "thread of pornography in the web of sexual exploitation."

Walmart did not immediately respond to inquiries from CNBC on whether sales of Cosmo were declining.

Rising social and political activism in the U.S. has put a new lenses under which corporations are evaluating their business practices. That has meant everything from human resources polices, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, to gun restrictions put in place by retailers following the massacre in Parkland, Florida. Walmart is one of several retailers that have issued new restrictions on the sale of guns.

That climate has also reflected itself in magazines like Cosmo, which are increasingly broadening their coverage to include politics.

In 2016, Ivanka Trump, in an interview with the magazine, said its questions regarding President Donald Trump's childcare and maternity leave policies had a lot of "negativity."

Hearst did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.