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Wal Mart Shelves Empty
Wal Mart's Empty Shelves.
Walmart's downward spiral is accelerating according to Bloomberg. Shoppers tired of Walmart's empty shelves and long lines are bolting to Costco and Target. Chronically understaffed Walmart stores don't have enough employees to restock shelves according to Bloomberg. Merchandise is piling up at the loading docks and backsides of stores while staff struggle to check out long lines of frustrated shoppers.

Walmart has long been known for treating workers poorly. Many Walmart sales associates rely on Medicaid for health care because their wages and benefits are so poor. Costco's CEO recently argued to raise the minimum wage, but Walmart management is attempting to keep labor costs at rock bottom levels. Apparently Walmart's efforts to minimize labor costs are backfiring. Costco's better paid employees are happier and more productive. Higher worker productivity at Costco is making up for the difference in wage rates.

In my recent experiences, Walmart's cashiers have appeared harried and tired. Hours of standing over a cash register checking out constant lines of customers is wearing out workers. Workers who can find better service jobs are surely leaving Walmart for retail outlets that treat workers better. High worker turnover is likely causing productivity to decline adding to the downward spiral. Newly hired workers restock shelves and check shoppers less efficiently than experienced, well trained employees. Walmart's race to the bottom is hitting the bottom line.

Recent polls show that Walmart is dead last in customer satisfaction.

All the king's horses can't repair Walmart's reputation.

“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers. In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Wal-Mart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent. Wal-Mart employs about 1.4 million U.S. workers.

Expert business consultants contacted by Bloomberg affirmed that Walmart's bad labor practices are the culprit in Walmart's downward spiral.
Shoppers are “so sick of this,” said Ton, whose research, published in Harvard Business Review, examines how retailers benefit from offering good wages and benefits to all employees. “They’re mad about the way they were treated or how much time they wasted looking for items that aren’t there.”
Previous post in this series.

You must see the comments at Bloomberg: "I would not piss on them if they were on fire".

Kathy B:

I purchased an electronic gift card for my son who was running short on grocery money and lives states away. Despite the fact the copy said that "most recipients receive their ecard in minutes," my child had to wait two days while Walmart ran a financial check. I paid with PayPal. They sat with my cash for TWO DAYS. It was clear that the folks I talked to were very unmotivated, and just sat around repeating the company line, No one was really interested in helping. I have been trying to avoid Walmart anyway. But I will never make this mistake again. Walmart, I am DONE with you.
I worked for them in the eighties and it was quite an experience. They work their part-timers right up to the full-time threshold and sent us home. We rarely got 15 minute breaks and were often asked to cut our lunch short. I would be called on three different customer service lines in different areas of the store at the same time because God forbid a female staffer have to lift something, and would then be chastised by the other impossible-to-help departments in the meantime; and since I never attained the elusive full time status, I didn't qualify for healthcare or stock options. My shifts were often split to cover high-demand times, sometimes for as little as three hours at a time, and so the full timers could be guaranteed their lunches or vacation days. It was a miserable and despicable experience, and I would not piss on them if they were on fire.
Barton E
Interesting article about Wal-Mart. I tried to buy an item in a locked display case recently. Wal-Mart could not sell it to me because the key was lost. After three more tries in three weeks with the same results I went to the manager of the store. The manager said she could not help me and they would have to get a lock smith because they did not have a duplicate key to the display case. She said it would take at least two weeks to get a lock smith to the store. When I told her that this has been going on for at least three weeks she just shrugged her shoulders and said she was just a part time worker and was only there three times a week. I ordered the item on the internet and it was delivered before they could get a key for the display case.

Originally posted to FishOutofWater on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Invisible People.

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