Friday, February 15, 2013

Chickens come home to roost at WalMart

WalMart executives are freaking out over lousy sales, according to this article in Business Insider. After a disastrous January, one WalMart exec wrote in an email that February sales so far are a "total disaster," according to a Bloomberg news story.
“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.” 
Don't count on the geniuses running WalMart to figure out the problem anytime soon. Rather than looking at how meager is the pay of millions of working Americans, the execs are blaming the expiration of the payroll-tax break on Dec. 31. The Bloomberg report noted that "For a person making $40,000 a year, that is about $15 a week." $15 a week is wrecking WalMart? Really? Or is it the fact that nearly one in every five U.S. households earns less than $20,000 a year?

WalMart, in fact, leads the list of  The 20 Companies With The Most Low-Wage Workers. As Henry Blodget pointed out, Walmart could give every single one of its 1.4 million U.S. workers a $5,000 a year raise and STILL have $17 billion in profit.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed pushing the minimum wage up to a whole nine bucks an hour. A really serious proposal would have been $12 or more an hour.  As Dean Baker explained a few days ago, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth the past few decades, it would have been $16.54 in 2012.

And let's note here the stunning news that The top 1% captured 121 percent of income gains since 2009. How is THAT possible? As a Naked Capitalism writer explained, " How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%." That means income inequality is getting worse faster under Obama, than it did under Dubya.

UPDATE: A big swooping tip o' the hat to PuddyTat and grover, who note in comments to my cross posting on DailyKos that there is also the factor of "the negative publicity and exposure that WalMart has gotten that has increased the number of folks who won't walk in their door anymore." Grover points to the highly interesting information that Sams Club, the membership retail warehouse owned by WalMart, is also suffering from slack sales, while its competitor, Costco, is not.


  1. The executives should press for increased minimum wage.

  2. Increasing minimum wage would certainly be movement in right direction

    A job guarantee program as proposed by Modern Monetary Theory proponents would be even better. See, Billy Blog (, and

    We are rapidly approaching the day if not there already when we should admit that given technology driven productivity gains there may not be enough drudgery left to go around so a Basic Income Guarantee, probably set near the poverty level but payable to all citizens so there is no disincentive to accept truly productive employment when available, may be the correct policy response.

    Major Clifford Hugh Douglas called it a "cultural heritage" dividend in his 1933 book Social Credit available at

    Robert Heinlein's first but only recently published novel was based on the ideas of Douglas.

    1. Anyone quoting the SoCreds around this site is MORE than welcome.

      But just so you know, the "official" position of this blog is that first we fund the community's necessary work (infrastructure repair and replacement, solarizing the energy grid, etc.) and the prosperity that produces will more than fund a reasonable social safety net—especially if we go to a single-payer system to control health care costs.

      But yes, a minimum support level is certainly doable. Richard freaking Nixon actually proposed just that.