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Walmart having difficulties. I’m not in mourning.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall:

The company’s growth rate has slowed to a crawl, overtaken by rivals once thought to be no match for the “beast of Bentonville.” Average annual profit growth lags that of Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp. and other competitors. Wal-Mart’s repeated efforts to push upscale merchandise have ended in tears. Expansion at home is still thwarted by hundreds of U.S. communities; and several forays abroad are struggling or have been scrapped. The stock price is down 32 per cent since the turn of the century, when CEO Lee Scott took the reins.

Am I sad about this? Nope. I believe in the old adage “ye reap what ye sow”, and Walmart’s been sowing rather questionable business practices for awhile:

Wal-Mart seems to be its own worst enemy in public relations. Already the target of class-action lawsuits from employees claiming to have been locked inside stores after closing time to perform extra work without pay, and the biggest sexual discrimination class-action suit in U.S. history, Wal-Mart’s Threat Research and Assessment Group – set up to curb “shrinkage,” or employee theft, and pro-union sentiments among employees – was found to have spied on company critics including consultants, irate shareholders, financial reporters and even members of the company’s own board. In May, Human Rights Watch, better known for raising alarms about civil-rights abuses in repressive regimes, accused Wal-Mart of violating labour laws.

I hadn’t heard about the “locking employee inside” charge before, but I think we all know what Walmart’s reaction in Canada was when some of their employees tried to unionize at a couple of stores in Quebec. It’s ironic that as I write this, the community I still currently reside in is building a Wal-Mart; its old Zellers store closed a couple of years ago, and people have been forced to drive to either Sarnia or Chatham to find anything comparable. Wal-Mart, according to the article, still thrives in monopoly or near-monopoly situations in small towns, and that’s what it will find here – its main competitor probably will be Canadian Tire.

However, as this article shows, Wal-mart is no longer thought of as being invincible, and that’s good for all consumers.

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1 comment to Walmart having difficulties. I’m not in mourning.

  • I am happy to see big box stores fail, especially in smaller population centres. Nevertheless, Wal-Mart has allowed low-income Canadians and especially Americans to stretch their dollars further than at other stores. This aspect of WalMart is one that is oftentimes convienently forgotten by its critics on the left.

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