“Total disarray” store cleaner, but out-of-stocks problem persists

Remember a couple months ago when Forbes contributor and retail industry veteran Walter Loeb visited a Massachusetts Walmart store and found it to be in “total disarray”?

Walmart invited Loeb to come by the store again this past weekend to see what had changed. Loeb found that the store was cleaner than it was last time, but there were still notable problems with out-of-stocks. He links that phenomenon to the company’s ongoing sales struggles:

The store in Pittsfield, #2228, that looked like a third world disaster now has a professional appearance…Unfortunately the home office is not backing [the new store manager’s] efforts with sufficient merchandise. During my walk-through of the store, I noted many out of stock areas, such as soft home, flashlights, sporting goods, vacuum cleaners, women’s accessories, and health & beauty. There are gaping spaces on many shelves.  That is bad, since there is no substitute when sheets, and other goods, are out of stock. If merchandise is not on the fixture, the customer does not know that it may be on order.  I think this store, as well as other Walmart stores, where I have seen the same malady, would be more likely to achieve their sales goals every month if they were better stocked.

Read Loeb’s whole report here.

What do you think?