Amid backlash, Belk confirms holiday bell ringers will be back

CHARLOTTE, NC (Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Observer) - Following customer backlash, Salvation Army bell ringers will be back at Belk stores this holiday season.

After Belk temporarily disallowed the seasonal bell ringers, the Charlotte department store confirmed Monday that they will be "absolutely welcome" outside its 294 stores once again.

The decision followed some backlash from customers. A #BoycottBelk hashtag movement started up over the weekend when word spread that the Salvation Army would not be back at Belk. Many social media users said they would not shop at Belk as a result.

"When our customers speak, we listen. And our customers have been loud and clear about their passion for the Salvation Army," Belk spokesman Andy Izquierdo said. "We have had a long relationship with the Salvation Army."

Izquierdo said Belk will be raising funds through its "Home for the Holidays" campaign for Habitat for Humanity.

"The Salvation Army was always going to be a part of our community strategy in the future – we are just making sure they are part of the present as well," he added.

Belk was started as a tiny store in Monroe in 1888 and grew over the decades to the largest family-owned department-store chain in the nation. The company sold itself about two years ago to the New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $3 billion.