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Monday, March 07, 2011

Walmart is losing customers

A recent AP article discusses how Walmart is missing out on the supposed consumer comeback. That’s quite a statement. Could it be that the public has grown tired of cheesy Walmart products coming from China? It didn’t seem to matter a couple of years ago that they had Christmas lights that exploded, low quality toothpaste, and toys painted with lead paint among other junk items.

I guess customers are wising up to bad quality, long lines, bad service, and out of stocks plus having to drive to get them. Or, maybe those photos of the “Walmartians” are legitimate after all. Those guys with high heels and dresses to complement their beards scare me!

The drop in sales at Walmart has been going on for about two years and possibly none of the above reasons have anything to do with it. Some blame mistakes in merchandising and pricing along with the financial stress on the many low income people who shop there. The holiday season was also lackluster and didn’t help much compared to business done at some competitors.

Walmart seems to be scrambling to restore a lot of the products they discontinued during the last year plus they have gone back to offering discounts across the store instead of using big discounts on selected items. It’s become a “whatever works” attitude as sales dropped 1.8% last year at the stores in the United States that have been open at least a year.

One more important factor in lower sales may be the changing habits of consumers. With gasoline prices skyrocketing, a lot of people are shopping closer to home, especially for essentials like bread and milk. Also, the rise of the dollar stores has to be a factor. Those places are everywhere and have a lot of nice stuff for a buck.

The changing consumer buying habits have also changed with the rise of Internet sales. I never leave my house to shop for Christmas items and plenty of other items too. The demise of Border’s Books was no surprise to me. Who wants to pay full price on a paperback or other book when they can save a trip, avoid lines, and buy it considerably lower on the Internet at places like Amazon with no shipping cost? But, Border’s has a coffee shop! That may have mattered a few years ago but not now. Can Barnes and Noble be next?

Today’s customers are buying closer to home and are only shopping when they really need things. Some of the things they may not need at this time are new electronic items. Ultimate Electronics found that out recently when they were forced to close their stores.

1 comment:

midnightsstaff said...

Ok- I'll give it another try- in non magneto tho-
I think it's all about the endless waits in checkout rather than anything else.
I have gone there for a few items just because it's en route for home and spent longer in the CO line than shopping for a few trinkets.
Don't have that problem at the super target it seems, I can't believe that WM central can't see the same thing as I do.