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Walmart protest in Chicago IL
Walmart's cost-cutting policies and uncertainty around its aggressive battle against its own workers have cost the company in a report from equities researchers at Wolfe Research:
The firm lowered Walmart from a “market perform” rating to an “underperform” rating, pointing to three main causes: understaffing, an erosion of its price advantage against competitors, and costs associated with intensifying pressure from worker organizing.

While cutting fixed costs, like the number of employees, as an attempt to get more from less can work for some businesses, the researchers note that this isn’t having a good impact for the company. “Walmart U.S.’s relentless focus on costs does seem to have taken some toll on in-store conditions and stock levels,” the note says in regards to understaffing. “[O]ur store visits over the last six months show a repeating pattern of stocking issues in many departments in the store.” When products aren’t on the shelves, that means Walmart can’t sell them, depressing overall sales. And if the shelves are empty and the lines are long, there may not be a reason for consumers to frequent the stores.

Walmart has also downgraded its own expectations, saying cuts to food stamps would hurt profits, news that highlighted the company's reliance on government assistance, with many Walmart workers needing Medicaid or food stamps to supplement poverty wages.

Walmart has added hundreds of stores in recent years while cutting its workforce, leading to pervasive complaints about understocked shelves and long lines, as reflected in the Wolfe downgrade. The company has also engaged in a bruising battle with its own workers, leading to charges of labor law violations by the National Labor Relations Board, as well as widespread attention to its reliance on government assistance to make up for the low wages it pays. Meanwhile, analysts say Walmart could pay an average wage as high as $14.89 without raising prices.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (132+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, Laurel in CA, lcrp, JeffW, koosah, tardis10, belinda ridgewood, Steveningen, chrississippi, jan4insight, prettygirlxoxoxo, fiercefilms, slothlax, political mutt, tofumagoo, Polly Syllabic, Josiah Bartlett, tampaedski, Crider, sow hat, mungley, BobBlueMass, Otteray Scribe, Tinfoil Hat, wader, JamieG from Md, defluxion10, ColoTim, Horace Boothroyd III, grape crush, celdd, BachFan, GeorgeXVIII, millwood, tegrat, Yo Bubba, maybeeso in michigan, Catte Nappe, samddobermann, Sylv, SCFrog, IndieGuy, FarWestGirl, howabout, Involuntary Exile, stlsophos, bluesheep, Dodgerdog1, Sun Tzu, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, elwior, Simul Iustus et Peccator, MKinTN, hbk, fumie, lunachickie, Imhotepsings, sulthernao, Betty Pinson, shortgirl, Laughing Vergil, dksbook, Paul Ferguson, dewtx, ksuwildkat, hungrycoyote, Rosaura, viral, Glen The Plumber, tuesdayschilde, Aquarius40, thomask, Arahahex, eeff, elfling, Mr Robert, Shotput8, scyellowdogdem, Aunt Pat, mslat27, imicon, Ice Blue, angel d, rapala, GreenMother, annan, HedwigKos, Youffraita, Cassandra Waites, radarlady, Buckeye54, profundo, flatford39, BlueMississippi, linkage, Greasy Grant, richardvjohnson, Another Grizzle, doingbusinessas, Joy of Fishes, Nespolo, Tonedevil, Jollie Ollie Orange, inclusiveheart, Egalitare, Shockwave, PeterHug, janmtairy, BadKitties, MrWebster, dotsright, Lashe, Haningchadus14, middleagedhousewife, 207wickedgood, Creosote, TKO333, Wife of Bath, cjo30080, Morrigan, DavidMS, cocinero, jbsoul, alice kleeman, laurnj, rocksout, Linda1961, BlueJessamine, Olkate, trkingmomoe, jadt65, roadbear
  •  They brought it on themselves... (31+ / 0-)

    ...soon might MalWart go under, and have no costs at all?

    No profits for the Waltons, either.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 10:59:09 AM PST

  •  Yea but (16+ / 0-)

    If Walmart paid its employees more, something like four Walton heirs might not be single wealthiest collection of people in the world!  

    Why won't someone think of the (Walton) children?  

    Seriously, they didn't get immorally wealthy by writing a bunch of checks.  

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

    by dankester on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:01:29 AM PST

  •  Mentioned Walmart to new neighbor and (36+ / 0-)

    heard yet another story about his awful experience working  at Walmart. Interesting how often this happens.

    And, no, it's not the same story everywhere. For example my friends who work at HEB (Texas grocery chain) have their complaints, sure, but  all of them say they like working there. Ditto Costco.

    I don't shop at Walmart, but sometimes go with a friend when she goes to pay her bill. Everyone, workers and customers look just miserable.

    Not so at other stores around here. Smiling friendly workers and customers.

    Walmart just has a big dark cloud of misery hanging over it.

    This is my opinion and my experience and not based on any scientific study so cannot provide links.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:01:48 AM PST

  •  gosh, they need to exploit more workers: Surprise! (12+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:03:04 AM PST

    •  Exactly...I don't think these these analysts... (7+ / 0-)

      ...that we're selectively embracing have any agenda beyond Wal-Mart hiring still more workers to make the same wages, or perhaps lower ones, than the current workforce.  The homeopathic approach of taking tiny amounts of Wall Street claptrap as a cure to the disease that Wall Street itself represents is as flawed as homeopathy itself.  My apologies to believers in homeopathy who didn't expect to wander into a Wal-Mart diary and get criticized :)

      It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

      by Rich in PA on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:33:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What'd ya know -- employees are more than costs! (23+ / 0-)

    They actually serve a valuable function of increasing company capacity. Imagine that!

  •  Keep in mind that the whole thing (10+ / 0-)

    about Walmart being able to give all of their employees a raise to $14.89 "without raising prices" really is misleading. It's based on the fact that WMT has been buying back about $8 billion in stock. So if they simply took that $8B and gave it as raises to employees, no need to raise prices. But compensation is an expense, while buying back stock is not. An additional $8B in compensation expense would lower pretax income from about $25B to about $17B. That's pretty darn material, and would cut WMT's margins (and likely its stock price) by about a third. Another point to note is that while stock buybacks are periodic campaigns, a raise in salaries would become a permanent part of the cost structure. So the "analysis" ignores that $8B once is not the same at all as $8B every year going forward.

    Should they give everyone a raise anyhow, just to be nice? Perhaps. But it is not the case that it would not cost the shareholders significantly.

    •  The people who wrote the piece suggesting that (8+ / 0-)

      Walmart could raise wages to just under $15/hr without raising prices didn't have the most basic understanding of corporate accounting or the capital markets. They were well intentioned but the article was embarrassing. Don't these groups have experts they know who can review these things before they make them public?

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:19:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The left would be better served (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kenlac, VClib

        when referring to economic analysis if the analyses were consistently realistic and well-founded. Much of it is, but this particular report is not, and we probably should not be citing it.

      •  as doc commented above: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, Tonedevil, 207wickedgood

        "But it is not the case that it would not cost the shareholders significantly."

        Indeed. The Capital Markets (hallowed be Thy Name, forever and ever, world without end) might disapprove. Or even be Sad.

        This is the classic struggle beween Capital and Labor.

        Labor, like Oliver from "Oliver Twist" is starving at the table, asking for a little bit more food.

        God knows we can't have that!

        Capital must be Worshipped and Served.

        Sometimes, the best counter to the thick condesension from you two is sarcasm.

        “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

        by ozsea1 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:51:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  oz - but the capital markets understanding is only (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          doc2, virginislandsguy, ozsea1

          half the story, the other half was about the management and cost accounting analysis that would have been needed to make an accurate assessment of how higher hourly wages would impact prices. None of that expertise or knowledge was present in the analysis. As a package it looked as though someone thought they had an interesting idea of how to look at this issue, but none of the knowledge to actually perform the analysis or put it into the required context. The problem with that kind of work is that it is picked up at DKOS and throughout the Internet and quoted as fact. It makes my head hurt. I think Walmart is a despicable employer and there is much to criticize about their employee compensation. Let's just get our facts right.  

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:11:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  VC - note that I made no such assertion (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, Tonedevil

            "how higher hourly wages would impact prices"

            The reality is that no one person or single group really knows exactly what the impacts of high wages - especailly at the lower levels - would be.

            "As a package it looked as though someone thought they had an interesting idea of how to look at this issue, "

            The kind of "package" that you're trying to address is, in it's own way, equally in the dark.

            There's a lot of moving and opposing parts to this machine.

            “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

            by ozsea1 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:51:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  oz - I don't agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Because Walmart is a public company there is enough information available that if someone was really knowledgeable about retailing they could do a thoughtful analysis. A senior analyst from a mutual fund, who is a big Walmart shareholder and follows the retail industry, could make a very good estimate on how employee compensation impacts pricing.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 04:02:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  hmmm - (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                whether or not the market demand will sustain these hypothetical price increases; that is the real world question. Sales decrease, after-tax profits decrease, then stock prices decrease?

                Interesting speculation. Put more spendable wages in these lower-tier employees' hands, then how would this increased spending power affect sales of lower-tier retailers like Wal-Mart?

                “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

                by ozsea1 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 04:45:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is no doubt that higher wages for low (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  virginislandsguy, ozsea1

                  income workers would help Walmart revenues. However, that doesn't mean that higher wages for Walmart workers would help Walmart. When this issue was rolling around a month or so ago, I did some very high level estimates and for every $1 increase in wages to a Walmart worker the company would need about $5 of increased sales to break even.

                  I personally favor an increase in the minimum wage, regardless of how it impacts Walmart (who I think are terrible employers). I think the proposal to move the minimum wage to $10.10, over the next two or three years, would be a real positive and have little effect on employment. That increase is very much in line with recent increases in terms of the percentage change and actual dollars of spending power.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 06:41:56 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  It probably is not a zero sum game. (14+ / 0-)

      Better paid workers will work harder and smile more and the mood of a store has a definite impact on shoppers. I prefer shopping in stores where the employees smile.

      That and the reduction in bad press . . .

      •  Like Costco (18+ / 0-)

        Costco pays well and isn't stagnating in it's own cesspool of cost cutting like Wally*World is.

        "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

        by Crider on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:41:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Costco is a completely different business model (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, doc2, FarWestGirl, AlexDrew, VClib

          not a legitimate comparison.

          You need to evaluate a business on its own model, or comparable ones.  Wal-Mart is probably more comparable to K-Mart (is that still around) than to Costco.  

        •  Costco and Walmart have very different business (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, doc2, nextstep, Catte Nappe

          models and aren't competitors. Costco competes with Sam's Club, not Walmart. Costco pays more than all of the general merchandise retailers.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:51:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And Sam's Club is owned by - surprise! - WALMART (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            viral, vcmvo2, Tonedevil

            This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

            by Ellid on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:50:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Certainly they're competitors (4+ / 0-)

            Just because they don't have the same business model doesn't mean they're not competitors. They sell much of the same stuff.

            IE: In my area, someone might prefer to go to Costco or Target but the nearest ones are 70 miles away. If they're not going that far, they go to Wal-Mart, because that's what's local.

            They're going to put in a Costco across the street from the Wal-Mart here. That's going to be an interesting bit of free market dynamics.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:33:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And when WinCo enters the picture... (0+ / 0-)

              Good-bye Walmart!

              Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

              by Sirenus on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:55:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  elfling - Costco and Walmart sell very little (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              of the same specific items. If we stacked up the SKUs I bet there isn't a 20% overlap and if we took out groceries it would be 10%. Costco started as a wholesaler, with little general merchandise. Walmart started as a general merchandiser retailer who later added grocery. It's not surprising they have such a small product overlap. Certainly a Costco across the street from a Walmart will take away some business, but in a typical Costco service area there will be several Walmart stores.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:55:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Costco competes directly for WalMart customers (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, Cassandra Waites, Aunt Pat

                like myself. Where there is a Costco, the majority of my consumer spending occurs there. If there is no Costco, then I go to WalMart and Sam's club, both, and they "split" that money (if you want to see it that way when they are the same company).

                Costco competes with Walmart (and other stores) in another way. Once people have shopped at Costco, they are no longer willing to pay the premium other stores were able to charge before they came. Who pays a dollar for a lighter when Costco sells the same lighter 50 for $8.49? Changed consumer expectations caused the price of nearly everything on the island to drop by a third in a matter of months when Costco came to town. Even for things Costco doesn't sell - companies reduced their margins so they could compete.

                The effect of Costco is still obvious when you shop the same store on opposite sides of the island. A WalMart in Hilo, nearly two hours away from Costco, can charge more than a WalMart in Kona with a Costco just down the street.

                Yes, the business model is different. Costco sells high volume, low margin products while WalMart sells high volume, high margin products. But to say that they don't directly compete in a big way is absurd.

                •  In this area (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Wal-Mart has bought property directly across the street from Costco and 2 miles from Fred Myer.

                  Wal-Mart has had the property for well over a year and no construction has begun. They ran into zoning problems and that took a long while for them to fix.

                  I'll believe it when I see it.

                  "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

                  by Hermenutic on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:18:15 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Safeway and Trader Joe's (0+ / 0-)

                sell virtually none of the same specific items.

                I go grocery shopping roughly once a week.

                If I go to Trader Joe's, I don't go to Safeway* that week.

                If I go to Safeway, I don't go to Trader Joe's.

                (* I actually shop at a different supermarket, but it's not an obviously recognized national chain.)

                IE: I substitute one for the other freely.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:01:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Apples and oranges (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, Catte Nappe, MrWebster

          Costco doesn't go where Walmart lives.  The better-off accept a higher premium for occasional bulk buys at Costco.  Walmart's customer base is less affluent, and shops there everyday.  That's not to say that Walmart isn't ripping off its workers, but Costco isn't comparison.  The regional supermarket is a better yardstick.

          •  Sure they do (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, ypochris

            Albuquerque, for instance, has three Costcos, three Sam's Clubs located very close to the Costcos (as in down the road or across the street), twelve WalMarts in various configurations (regular, super, and market), five Targets, at least one Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, at least two other regional supermarket chains, and any number of other retail options. In many cases it's possible to go to half a dozen stores for specific items without driving more than a few miles overall, especially in the NE section of town.

          •  Seems that way. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I have never shopped at Walmart but the claim is lower quality at lower prices.  Costco is higher quality products at higher prices at least for the food.  I can't see Costco doing all the great in less affluent areas where people are living more or less paycheck to paycheck and by necessity must buy "piece meal".  I love Costco's pastrami, but not in two pound packs and about $3 more per pound then the rubber sold in the supermarket chains (well, I don't buy them either).

      •  It's not a zero sum game (0+ / 0-)

        But that's not the point.  For prices to remain fixed and all other things being equal, you need to offset 16 percent increase in wages with a 16 percent increase in revenue.   Otherwise, either prices rise to recoup the difference, owners accept a reduced payout, wages get cut, or any combination thereof.  Again, this is all things being equal.  

        Demos imagined going back in time and plowing the $36bn reserved for four years of stock buybacks into wages.  But that's just four years worth of wages.  I'm pretty sure we want something more permanent than that.

    •  buying back stock is not an expense?! (0+ / 0-)

      How is that possible?  The company is spending money to take their own paper off the market.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:23:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are many ways that companies (6+ / 0-)

        can send out money but it is not an expense. Buying back stock is simply the reverse of issuing stock, and issuing stock is not a revenue item (in other words, there is no income generated when an IPO is done). When debt principal is repaid, that is another example of money leaving the company but no expense is recorded. Generally, inflows and outflows related to the firm's capital (debt, equity) structure are not income or expense items (for both GAAP and tax).

      •  Because it comes out of profit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        expenses are deductible from income and the remainder is taxable profit.

        If you deducted buy backs you would reduce taxes.

        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

        by samddobermann on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:40:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  But if pre tax income is lowered (0+ / 0-)

      then they have less to pay as taxes. You need to add that in.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:37:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually they can claim the raise (0+ / 0-)

      on their taxes as business expenses.  They cannot claim buying back their own stock as a business expense.

    •  Raising the minimum wage would help (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, Cassandra Waites, Tonedevil

      It would allow more of their employees to actually buy more stuff in their stores.

      Has anyone thought about the huge amount of pent up consumer demand is out there?  If wages were raised for the US working class, people would be buying stuff like crazy.  The US economy would fully recover within months, not years.  

      I don't understand why Wall Street and corporate America keep suppressing US consumer spending through high unemployment and low wages.  We've reached the point of diminishing returns on the low wages and high unemployment scheme a long time ago.

      Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:08:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do the math. (0+ / 0-)

        Say Walmart paid an extra dollar an hour, and say that their employees all spent that dollar on Walmart goods (ignore taxes). Their pretax margins are about 5%. So they'd recoup 5 cents for every extra dollar paid. And that's assuming 100% recapture.

        •  False. (0+ / 0-)

          Because most of their expenses are fixed. Their profit on that dollar varies, but it would be the gross profit on the item purchased because the fixed expenses would not rise.

          For example, if I purchased part of a "pint" of Haagen Dazs ice cream with that dollar (wholesale $.99, retail $3.79), the gross profit on that dollar would be close to 74 cents. Their fixed expenses to sell that extra carton of ice cream would be zero. So the net profit would also be 74 cents.

          •  Wrong, sorry. The cost of goods (0+ / 0-)

            include not merely the wholesale cost but also the cost of logistics getting those items to a floor. The fixed costs are tiny at Walmart.

            •  That is why I picked Haagen Dazs (0+ / 0-)

              as an example. Besides the high margin, the manufacturer provides the freezer and stocks it. The logistical cost is zero.

              Not every product has that high of a margin, But WalMart is a high volume, high profit business. If they can't charge a high margin, and move a large volume, they don't stock it for long.

              And you're wrong about the fixed costs. But once those fixed costs have been met, the gross profit from every additional sale just enhances the bottom line. Obviously to deal with a large increase you have to hire an additional stocker and checker, but at eight bucks an hour, spread over that large volume the percentage this costs is tiny.

              •  Did you read the comment? (0+ / 0-)

                The 5 cents back was based on 100% of the salary spent at WMT. 100%! Tell you what - inflate your fixed costs all you want, but use a realistic spend rate. You'll end up with even LESS than 5 cents back.

                •  We were discussing the percentage (0+ / 0-)

                  of each additional dollar spent at WalMart that would be profit, which is variable depending on the specific product but is considerably more than 5%. I don't know where you are getting your numbers, but I've worked there and discussed profitability with the store manager. And know what the wholesale/retail price split is on some items.

                  I never said or implied that every dollar in additional wages would be spent in-store. But it would only have to be something like one in ten to make that nickel per dollar paid.

        •  Your math assumes that ONLY Walmart is raising (0+ / 0-)

          what they pay, and that only Walmart employees would be thus spending more at Walmart.  If we get a universal minimum wage raise, a lot more people who work all over the place will be spending that extra money at Walmart as well.  So that .05 recoup is only if they were entirely a 'company store', and not open to people who worked elsewhere.  In reality, most people who shop at Walmart don't work at Walmart, so if the minimum wage goes up, Walmart will rake in a heck of a lot higher percentage thanks to all of the non-Walmart workers shopping there.

  •  When Sam Walton was alive and running things (15+ / 0-)

    it was far different. He never wanted to see more than three people waiting in a checkout line. He also made a point of visiting his stores at random. He dressed in his usual jeans, plaid shirt and a baseball cap from the feed store. Few people recognized him, but he made note of how this farmer-looking guy with a hillbilly accent from the Arkansas Ozark mountains was greeted and treated.

    His kids? Not so much.

    I have a horror story about my youngest daughter's experience in the retail sector. She quit her job--if you can call it that, and is now back in college for another degree. It will be worth a diary.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:57:51 AM PST

    •  I find that hard to believe (0+ / 0-)

      It sounds like too many stories about gods disguising themselves as travelers or beggars in order to test people.  Even if it's true, somehow I doubt it was the store manager or some HR bigwig who got in trouble for it.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:28:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, its true (4+ / 0-)

        Sam Walton was an aggressive capitalist, sure, but he was old - school when it came to things like customer service, etc.  I don't think he ever wanted to push profit-making to the point where it cannibalized communities and the low wage workforce.  

        Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

        by Betty Pinson on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:10:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not that unbelievable (4+ / 0-)

        The company wasn't always the behemoth it is today. When it was much smaller, but beginning to make itself known in some areas, reports of how Sam Walton took care of business began to come out. But the company was far from big enough at that point to generate the kinds of "great man myths and legends" that inevitably come along at some point. Sam's philosophy and approach early on were quite different from his descendants, or the corporate leaders of the firm today.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:14:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Walton also made a point to buy American (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, vcmvo2, Tonedevil


      His kids? Ha!

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:56:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wal-Mart should know (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, Cassandra Waites

    that playing hide and seek with customers about what is on the shelves really inspires customers to go somewhere else to shop.

    •  Particularly when gas prices are not low. (0+ / 0-)

      If someone drives to your store and doesn't find what they were needing to buy, and then has to spend gas money again to get someplace else that does have it, chances are someone will not be trying to buy that from your store again. Even if the shelf price is higher, because if they think they're going to have to spend that anyway, they might as well just go ahead and spend it without tacking extra driving expenses onto it!

  •  walmart is the only non grocery (6+ / 0-)

    'got a bit of everything' retailer in my area. 35-60 miles one way to get to another store. i shop there as rarely as possible, getting my home repair stuff at the locally owned lumber store or Ace hardware,my auto parts stuff at the aut parts place,others stuff at the safeway or feed goods store or online, or save it up for a trip to the bigger towns. but sometimes i am stuck and I have to go to walmart.
    when i do i am always appalled at the  lack of staffing. they staff the checkouts well enough, but it is a customer service desert out on the floor. no one can be found anywhere.clothes lie heaped up next to the fitting rooms.  the rare person to be found seems to, first, try to evade all customers and second, has less knowledge about location, price, etc. than , i the perplexed customer. i've never seen a store so bad about this.

  •  Could it also be... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that the general public is starting to get the idea us DFHs have been tying to get across for some time now that Wally World's business practices are not good in the long run for all of us?

  •  Too big to fail (0+ / 0-)

    Has anyone considered what would happen to the economy in general if walmart failed. They have destroyed local businesses everywhere. Where are all the poor schmucks who work there going to go? We have enabled walmart to become to big to fail. I believe it is a painful social correction that has to happen. If it does let's help the poor folks who have been exploited all these years.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:51:56 PM PST

    •  Some snark and alot of irony btw (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

      by Mokislab on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:57:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No one is too big to fail. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Greasy Grant

      Not in retail.

      Seen a Woolworth's lately?  Used to be one of the biggest businesses around.

      Sears? Top of the heap. Barely holding on, now.

      I would love to see Walmart get replaced by a WinCo. Just went down to the new one that opened in Fort Worth. People walking around going "Look at all the bulk food you can buy! Candy, nuts, grains! Look at the meat prices!"

      There's a Walmart about six blocks away from this store. I think that WM will be gone in three years....or less.

      Please let WinCo come to the north side of FW. The one open now is just too far. But if it's only 20 miles away, a weekly trip there will be worth it.  Bye, bye Walmart!

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:02:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would love to see walmart fail (0+ / 0-)

        Given the fact they are the largest employer in the U.S. and have destroyed so many businesses I believe it would be difficult for so many employees to find work. It was a monster we have created. I'm sure we will adapt.

        “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

        by Mokislab on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 04:35:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Walmart isn't that competitive... (7+ / 0-)

    But they tell you they are. I was shopping at Publix today for groceries, they feature a long list of products priced less than Walmart.
    And then there is quality, or the lack of in their fresh fruit and vegetables at Walmart.

  •  You can smell the fear (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, Egalitare

    It is absolutely creepy how beat down the employees are at Walmart. The Living dead comes to mind. I really feel sorry for them.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:28:15 PM PST

  •  Walmart sucks (0+ / 0-)

    as far as grocery shopping is concerned. The "fresh" vegetables are hardly fresh and the rest of it is either junk food or frozen. Very little is what I would call healthy and very few items are any kind of bargain.

    All of the actual grocery stores in my town have better quality and a vastly better selection. Cost Less Foods consistently beats WalMart on price and Save Mart is only marginally higher.

    I only buy my prescriptions, paper products, and cleaning products at WalMart. I very rarely buy anything in the grocery section and that seems to be the case with most people shopping there.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:47:55 PM PST

  •  I never have the dis-pleasure... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ten canvassers

    ...of shopping at Wal-Mart and it's not because I'm well-off, in fact I'm quite the opposite. However, I had to visit one of our local WMs to return a gift and I was stunned by the state of the store and its employees. Terrible. Near empty shelves, products in broken or opened packaging, lack of selection across sizes and mis-stocked items throughout the area where I shopped. The few employees I saw on the floor obviously avoided me as I sought someone, anyone to help me find the product I wanted. Finally, the poor girl who worked the checkout looked like she hadn't slept in days. Her manner was erratic and so high-strung that I was tempted to tell her to "settle down". If she wasn't tweaking she certainly came across as such. Everywhere I looked I saw dirty, disheveled WM uniforms, mussed hair and dark circles under very tired eyes. Then I noticed that my fellow shoppers had this same beat-down appearance. This is what we've become? There's no shortage of horror stories where WM is concerned but a visit to your local will bring it home like no amount of reading or hearing about it. I hope I never have to step foot in another zombie-fied Wal-Mart store. Really.

  •  Thats not all it hurts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, ypochris

    Walmart has serious problems with it's checkout lines.

    Half or more of the self checkouts are not working or on. And less than a third of the manual checkouts are not manned. Meaning that one can encounter lines that are very very long at any time day or night.

    This has been a problem for years and years.

    If there is no one to check you out and there is more than 20 people in the express checkout, many who are obviously not "express" people in a time crunch walk out and leave the basket of items.

    Walmart is eating it's own, so yea, another way that they are bringing failure upon themselves.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:12:10 PM PST

    •  Self-checkout has errors even when working. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, MKSinSA

      The weight sensors are off for small items.

      Wal-Mart depends on just-in-time ordering, rigged through the sales numbers.

      The only stores I've been in that had trouble keeping craft jewelry supplies in stock had self-checkouts. And they weren't sensitive enough to not tell you to put the item in the bag after you already had. I wouldn't be surprised if less honest people were playing games with that.

      The opened-package scam gets caught even in just-in-time because the evidence of the product loss stays in the store. How the hell does Wal-Mart catch self-checkout games before the annual tax inventory?

    •  Although it is not common (yet) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      where I live, the other day the lines were particularly long and slow for no obvious reason and I did see half a dozen people walk out while I waited in the checkout. I suggested to a manager that someone gather the abandoned carts and get the food back into the coolers and freezers, but she didn't seem to care. Looked like a lot of money being thrown away to me.

      •  I had stopped shopping at the local walmarts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ypochris, QuelleC

        some time ago. There are times when emergencies require a visit and every time, nothing has changed. So I don't go back unless I have to. And by have to, I mean it's after 9 pm and the kids have the flu or something to that effect and no other stores are open.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 05:25:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I had literally never (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          stepped into a Walmart before I applied for a job there. But I felt they treated me well, so I have become a regular customer.

          I do understand that other people have had a different employment experience. No doubt it totally depends on the store manager. But I had a good manager, and it was a good work environment.

          Sure, they could have paid me more. The starting wage is particularly discouraging. But any time you get recognition, like employee of the month or whatever, you get another dollar an hour. And you get a percentage of any increased profits over the prior year, which can be a significant bonus. People who tried were making a (relatively) decent wage after a few years.

          I guess I'm saying that after working there, I found Walmart wasn't quite as evil as I had been led to believe.

          •  That's good to hear, but too many cases of (0+ / 0-)

            female employees having to sue for equal advancement opportunities, and their pre-emptive weirdness over unions, and employees that have to do in-store food drives among themselves because they cannot afford to buy even Walmart's food is really distressing.

            The effect Walmart has had on small town mom and pop shops, and their general status as an architectural eye sore also contribute to my dislike of them.

            But I wish you well. You are the keeper of your own conscience. And good must be nurtured wherever we find it.

            Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

            by GreenMother on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 08:08:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Were you supporting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            a family?  Successfully?  Living on your own?  Did you have health insurance?  Etc.

  •  I'm gonna go with Duh! (0+ / 0-)


  •  I doubt if they will change. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David in NY

    The self-evident assumption of those running the Walmarts of the world is that labor does little to generate profits.  Research firms and others could talk themselves blue in the face about lost profits and it would make no difference, as the fundamental belief is just that, fundamental and unassailable.

    I remember the head of Costco (and its founder I believe) was getting grief from Wall Street for paying  workers too much even though they were generating profits and were expanding. This thing called Wall Street wanted to see Costco squeeze out as much profit as possible by reducing wages--not  realizing that the company would knee cap itself by cutting back on workers because Wall Street types, like the rulers of Walwart, do not believe labor contributes to profits.

  •  I am going to go against the grain and defend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    WalMart a bit. First, long ago and far to the North, I once worked for WalMart. In that particular store, i felt the employees were fairly treated. Those who tried quickly worked their way up the salary scale. My efforts were appreciated and the store manager told me so. They were extremely concerned about making sure I was paid for every minute I was working. And, possibly because the manager knew I was doing the best I could, no one rode me, telling me what to do when. As long as it got done, they let me set my own routine.

    About half the employees in the break room totally loved their jobs, and half utterly hated it. There was no middle ground, except my happy to be making any kind of money at all. Go figure.

    Finally, WalMart deserves credit for something that is often overlooked. A substantial number of their employees were, I would have thought, utterly unemployable. Antisocial personalities cleaning and night stocking, folks so old they could barely walk greeting, severely physically and mentally handicapped people doing things you wouldn't have thought would be possible. Not to mention people with no skills and no desire to learn any. They provided employment for the dregs of the labor market, people who could not possibly have gotten a job anywhere else.

    That said, I have to admit that most of the complaints above are true, also. I'm not a big defender of WalMart by any means, but with the bad there is also a little good.

  •  Until people stop (0+ / 0-)

    Shopping at Walmart this will continue. If you shop at Walmart you are part of the problem.

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:03:49 PM PST

  •  Walmart says they care about workers- (0+ / 0-)

    -the workers who do other things for a living yet shop at Walmart. So Walmart does in fact care about some kinds of people.

     They say it all the time:

    "We create jobs! (for other people). And we give a raise to workers through low prices! (other workers who make more money doing jobs other than working at Walmart)."

    So again, Walmart cares about somebody...

    I guess it's people on a higher caste? Are those the people Walmart cares about?

    Knock twice, rap with your cane

    by plok on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:15:49 PM PST

  •  JC Penneys seems headed down the same path. (0+ / 0-)

    Execs decided out of the blue to 'cut costs' by getting rid of most of the store cashier types, consolidating down to far fewer checkout areas around the store, while at the same time getting rid of the constant 'sales' they used to run for 'everyday low prices'.  That was such a huge flop so quickly that they returned to sales again, but they've been caught pulling the same crap so many places do, of marking things up right before the 'sales' so that in some cases, you actually pay more for an item on 'sale' than you would have before the sale.

    I kind of find it hard to believe they're going to survive the idiocy of the execs who've trashed the store, all the while being paid millions and given generous severance to boot, no doubt.

  •  I'm no Harvard MBA, but . . . (0+ / 0-)
    Walmart has added hundreds of stores in recent years while cutting its workforce . . .
    That sounds like competition just for the sake of competition.  Who's the marketing genius who thought THAT up?

    Another point:  since Wal Mart workers are non-union, and since Wal Mart won't pay them a living hourly wage, and also won't let them work full-time, then Wal Mart workers have very little to lose by walking off the job, picketing, and so forth, which is what they've already begun to do.  Keep it up, Wally World!  Keep it up!

    "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

    by oldmaestro on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:28:31 PM PST

  •  Can WalMart Fail? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Some posters have noted the WalMarts deep $ reserves, access to capital, commanding market position and other assets. This is absolutely true, as things stand in 2014 WalMart is very well entrenched in the marketplace.

    Other posters have compared WalMart to Wooloworths, Sears and other fallen fallen giants of retail. This is a fair comparison--in retail you are only as good as yesterday. A commanding position can be compromised by inept management very quickly.

    But to me the real achilles heel is WalMarts (in the persons of the Walton heirs) involvement in the ongoing class war. For example: the federal minimum wage is going to be increased. Maybe not to a real, inflation adjusted living wage but it will go up. Various municipalities will go further than the federal increase. But the Waltons, Kochs and other Slytherin alumni will fight any increase tooth and nail. How will that impact WalMarts image with the general public? Will customers stomach the sight of the Walton heirs sucking up public money to help keep their business afloat while they fight to the death to block a modest increase to the minimum wage?

    Hegel believed each ruling class sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Will the Waltons heed this warning?

  •  This is why I don't shop at Wal-Mart much (0+ / 0-)

    On the rare occasion that I do shop there, maybe four times a year, I don't think I've seen more than 1/3rd of the checkout lines open despite the parking lot being crammed full.  That and it is nearly impossible to find anything I want that isn't "CCC." (Cheap Chinese Crap)

  •  It is pretty clear Walmart has done pretty well (0+ / 0-)

    through the years.  As of May 2013 the international retailer had $469 billion in sales and 2.2 million employees, including 1.3 million in the United States.

    With all the variable that a huge multinational corporation must deal, it is also pretty clear the stockholders and Walton Family place their employees far down on the list.

    Of course they should make a profit, of course the Walmart brand should earn bucks for their shareholders, but it seems their profit line is way beyond what could be considered reasonable.

  •  Long lines always..produce ripoff (0+ / 0-)

    Never have enough cashiers..
    Went to produce section to buy peppers...sign read $, that's not $1.99 A POUND, but rather $1.99 A PEPPER.  Found that out at checkout.  I've never seen that kind of produce pricing before in a supermarket.  Talk about deceptive.  No, I didn't buy them.

  •  Many Walmarts becoming Zombie stores (0+ / 0-)

    Unclean, poorly stocked, long lines, average prices- just no real reason to go there

  •  Wal-Mart (0+ / 0-)

    I refuse to set foot in Wal-Mart.  When I was dragged in with a girlfriend years ago it felt like I was walking through Hell.  The idea of the wealthiest six Waltons earning their zillions off of communist Chinese workers and environmental degradation is morally repugnant to me.  It's un-American to operate a company with as many violations of morality as Wal-Mart.  It would take a lot of change and progress for me to ever patronize that store.

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