Is Wal-Mart Getting Scared?

eRobin of Fact-esque posted a thought-provoking piece suggesting that Wal-Mart customers may be catching on to their unholy practices and shopping elsewhere.

Note: I hope she’ll forgive my stealing the whole post but I really couldn’t figure out a way to excerpt it without ruining her point.

If July’s Numbers Are Bad, WalMart Will Have a Theory Linked to Months With an “R” in Their Names.

I have a theory that the world’s largest retailer and Enemy of the People, WalMart, is scared to death that Americans will wake up to what a corrosive force it is in our economy. After just a little bit of press attention to their failures to get outlets in some major cities, partly due to the company’s medieval labor practices, WalMart began a publicity blitz that reeked of fear. (here and here) They were probably also anticipating the sexual discrimination suit to hit the papers as well.

Now their very disappointing June numbers are out. They are blaming the poor performance on cool weather and bad Father’s Day turnout. To be fair, I don’t love my dad as much when the temperature falls below 80. And that analysis makes as much sense as what WalMart has been saying.

In the beginning of June, before we experienced any unseasonable weather and America turned against our fathers, they blamed the calendar in advance:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said yesterday that June sales would reach the low end of the expectation range of 4 to 6 percent higher than last year.

[…]

Walmart said that gains might be limited because the June period last year included July 4, when shoppers stock up on traditional holiday items like flags and hot dogs.

So now the sales growth numbers are out and they’re even worse than the low end of 4 to 6 percent. In fact, they’re twice as bad as that – essentially flat. From AOL news:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lowered its forecast Monday for June sales growth at stores open at least a year to a range of 2 percent to 4 percent, citing cool weather and disappointing Father’s Day results.

The world’s largest retailer said Monday during its weekly sales update that key categories were flat this year as compared to last year, when it had its best week of the summer.

They’re terrified. If people threatened by WalMart’s economic power, anti-union policies and political reach could manage to organize a one-day boycott/Day of Education targeting Walmarts across the country, the company’s head would explode. Why can’t we (“organized” labor) get that done??

It’s a good question to which I don’t have a good answer, though I suspect the fact that ‘organized labor’ groups have their hands full just surviving may have something to do with it. Still, that’s no excuse. She’s right about this: Wal-Mart should have been a standard union target years ago.

There may be something to her theory. Wal-Mart is buying time on NPR (let’s face it, that’s what it is) to announce and promote their ‘philanthropic foundation’, a pure PR ploy. Why would they do that if their base doesn’t listen to it and they don’t care about the bad publicity? The Waltons have never been known for their ‘philanthropic’ urges before.

I can’t say I’ve seen any falling-off of business in the store where I live, but then Wal-Mart drove all the competition out years ago in this area and now they’re the only game in town, so probably I wouldn’t.

But consider this: Wal-Mart is a leader in the anti-worker war; it was fear of Wal-Mart that caused the supermarket strike in CA that John wrote about. If they got taken down, all the corporations that are looking at adopting Wal-Mart-style labor practices would be quaking in their boots and backing out the door.

So?

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