There wasn’t much good news for Walmart in its Q3 earnings release last week, as the company reported negative same store sales for the third consecutive quarter, a decrease in customer traffic, and inventory growth that outpaced sales growth. Executives again pinned the blame on “economic headwinds and fiscal uncertainty,” but this time, for good measure, they also threw in some concern trolling about the Affordable Care Act.
Last Tuesday, Walmart brought Wall Street analysts down to Arkansas to get them up bright and early and show them PowerPoint presentations for hours (aka the “20th Annual Meeting for the Investment Community.”) Our invitation must have been lost in the mail, but we’ve sifted through the transcripts, news reports, and PR spin, and have some takeaways of our own. Here’s the first set:
While it’s usually a good rule of thumb to avoid internet comments sections, sometimes the internet can surprise you. The comments sections of an article on The Motley Fool published late last week actually contained interesting commentary on the trouble with Walmart’s “productivity loop” and the company’s ongoing labor concerns.
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”?
“There’s no substitution for boots on the ground in the store. No substitution. You can have all the technology you want but if you don’t get it out of the back room to the floor when the customer needs it, then that’s a lost cause.” – Drake Jackson, Category Manager (retired), Walmart
Following several reports last spring on the inconsistent and sometimes poor condition of the produce on store shelves, Walmart announced plans last June to improve the quality of the fruits and vegetables it sells. (Problems in produce, of course, exemplify the negative effects that Walmart’s persistent understaffing has on store operations.)