What’s Up With Walmart? 5 Things Afoot at the Big Box King

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It seems like Walmart has been making more headlines than mega discount warehouse stores tend to, and for the most part, the stories have been ones the Walton family would likely just as soon have kept buried in the back pages. Ever a lightning rod for the ire of environmentalists, small retail shop owners, the hipster set and more, these days the company is drawing attention and criticism from a decidedly more national audience. Perhaps the paradigm of American consumerism is shifting, or perhaps Walmart has simply pulled a few boneheaded moves recently.

5 Walmart Starts the Holiday Season Extra Early

This year Walmart just couldn’t wait for the start of the holiday shopping season. These days, many stores have begun to offer steep discounts on Thanksgiving Day itself; Walmart decided that even that lead time was insufficient, so they’re going to start offering discounts a full week before the once vaunted Black Friday shopping frenzy following the holiday. In addition to undercutting the competition by opening sales days ahead of the usual schedule, they are also offering a 32” flat screen TV for less than $100.

4 It Has Been a Bad Year for Profits

Overall, 2013 has already been a slow year for the big box giant. The end of the payroll tax cut and delayed income tax rebates saw many of the store’s regular customers keeping their cash in their pockets. Walmart is also anticipating a worse-than-average holiday shopping season, which is the major motivator for its early sales and wild price reductions. The company saw modest declines in profits during every quarter of the year so far, when compared to past performance.

3 Walmart Unlawfully Cracked Down on Strikers and Protestors

Add to profit declines the threat of major legal action taken by the National Labor Relations Board and you have one poor year for Walmart indeed. Allegedly, the company has routinely disciplined or even fired employees partaking in lawful strikes and protests in many states, and has issued threats against workers who considered doing so in the future. If these allegations are substantiated, then Walmart is breaking plural laws and is headed for court or for some major settlements.

2 Walmart Is Having a Food Drive for Its Own Employees

While perhaps one way for a company to help employees struggling in poverty would be to raise their wages, another approach is to ask for donations of food for the workers. A Cleveland area Walmart went with the latter approach and set up bins for food donations in the store with signs explaining the goods were “So associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.” Not surprisingly, the move—while perhaps well-intended though blisteringly myopic—is drawing ridicule and scorn from far and wide.

1 Walmart Is Still the World’s Biggest Retailer

Even despite all that ails Walmart this year, let’s not forget that it remains the world’s biggest retail company, and one of the most profitable corporations on the planet. The company employs well over two million people and makes billions upon billions of dollars every quarter. One year of one percent profit declines and some bad press is not going to stop this titan of consumption.
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  • Steve

    So all of these points are interesting tidbits about Walmart, but I feel that the author is misleading readers with his introduction.All five points dont seem to have a strong connection to the authors introduction that Walmart is “drawing attention and criticism from a decidedly more national audience.” In addition, some of the points arent supportive, in any way, of the statement that “Perhaps the paradigm of American consumerism is shifting, or perhaps Walmart has simply pulled a few boneheaded moves recently.” Point 5: American consumer behavior may be shifting, as people are purchasing more goods online and purchasing earlier in the holiday season, but that isnt necessarily a bad thing. While one can argue the merits of extending holiday shopping into mid-November, from a business standpoint, this in not a “bonehead” move by Walmart. Undercutting the competition and increasing its shopper traffic will increase revenue (and probably profits) since Walmart runs on a volume model, and the discount on the 32″ TV is a swipe at Amazon and Best Buy, not a mom & pop electronics shop… very few people buy large ticket electronics at small businesses anymore. If youre going to claim that nationally, people are upset about this, at least provide a link to an article that cites their unhappiness.Point 4: If the authors argument is that Walmart has seen a decline in revenue and profits because the payroll tax holiday disappeared, I would argue this probably isnt exclusive to Walmart. All big box retailers would be in the same boat… its not like Walmart shoppers are exclusively burdened. That said, this is certainly an interesting business fact, but it doesnt have anything to do with consumer criticism or Walmart making boneheaded moves (unless the author wants to tie declining profits directly to a Walmart business decision, which he hasnt). Itd also be nice if the author said by how much profits had declined / included some actual stats!Point 3: I certainly dont endorse unfair labor practices, but the key word here is allegedly. On the Interwebs, thats basically saying, “yeah, I heard this rumor…” If youre going to make a claim like this in your post, at least link to where you heard / found the complaint so that readers can have some context. Allegedly, Google was supposed to release an updated Nexus 10 when it released the Nexus 5 a few weeks back. Did it happen? No. Why? Because it was a rumor started on the Internet!Point 2: This is probably the point that fits in best with the authors original claim that Walmart has made some poor choices / has opened itself up to consumer criticism. Kudos for a claim that fits in with the articles theme. Again, however, no citation was provided. Apparently this happened in one store in Cleveland. How about a link, or something to corroborate the claim? If its “drawing scorn from far and wide,” there should be multiple sources to choose from!Point 1: This isnt really news, as everyone already knows this. Should we be outraged that with all of the trouble that Walmart is having, its still making money? Should we admire Walmart for overcoming adversity in business? What is this fact supposed to make us do / feel? More importantly, aside from musings about Walmart, whats the point of this article?

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