7 Key Facts to Keep in Mind about Walmart’s “U.S. Manufacturing Summit.”

It’s been two and a half years since Walmart announced its so-called “U.S. manufacturing initiative”, which means it’s time for another PR-heavy, Walmart manufacturing “summit,” this one in Bentonville, Arkansas on July 7th and 8th.  Undoubtedly, Walmart will use the summit to deliver feel-good talking points to the media, so this seems like a good time to review some facts about Walmart’s impact on the U.S. manufacturing sector, past, present and future.

6 Facts About Walmart and SB 202:  How Walmart is “Worse Than Silent” on LGBT Issues   

Update, February 23, 2015:  Today, as the bill became law, Walmart finally broke it’s silence and said that it opposes SB 202.    Unfortunately, as you will read below, this comes after pouring money into those who supported the bill, including Gov. Hutchinson who allowed the bill to become law.    We think it is worth noting that, if the company really wanted to help stop the law, they could have spoken out before the day the bill became law and encouraged their political and business allies to do the same.     

Doug McMillon’s Dilemma: Clay Christensen or Peter Drucker?

Already, Doug McMillon has had moments of decisive leadership, including the speedy elimination of the Rube Goldberg-esque “tethering” concept, and allowing the Express and Supermercado concepts to go gentle into that retail format night. But as McMillon continues to define the course of WMT’s future, a looming question is whether he can revive this maturing company’s prospects by placing all of his emphasis on channel-shifting the big-box business model toward e-commerce, smaller formats and other “innovative” strategies.

NYT: Leaked Memo Indicates Continued Understaffing

Even if CEO Doug McMillon is sincere in his stated goal of adding staffing hours and investing in wages, changing the actual hiring, scheduling and operating practices throughout a chain as large as Wal-Mart will be a significant challenge. That’s why the recent report in the New York Times indicating that the company is still cutting labor costs is so concerning as it appears to show that WMT US managers are still being instructed to find ways to reduce labor hours in the stores, not increase them. If the Times’ report is accurate, the internal WMT memo includes supervisorial directives telling managers to verify that labor intensive tasks (such as rotating milk and eggs as they approach expiration dates) are being done frequently, alongside references to reductions in labor—all without any apparent mention of the need to ensure that wages or labor hours are sufficient to improve customer service. Also a concern, we note that some of the language today suggested company officials may be backing away from last month’s comments on adding hours and labor budgets, and have returned to discussing “wage leverage” as a goal, while seeking to avoid “overextending” it.

The First Step to Recovery?

For at least four years WMT workers have pointed to reduced staffing levels and connected those reductions to operational problems including out-of-stocks, long lines at checkout and deteriorating customer service. In response, WMT officials repeatedly denied that problems existed: company spokespeople said having store greeters “wasn’t necessary”; that in-stock levels were “up significantly”; and that the stores were “fully staffed.” But a recent shift in tone by the company has marked an apparent break from the denial of the past, and executives have now come clean: understaffing has had a significant impact on customer service and store operations.