The Wall Street Journal says Walmart’s influence is on the decline. “American shoppers are increasingly looking for qualities that Wal-Mart has trouble providing. “For the first time in a long time, quality has a chance to gain on price,” says Lee Peterson, a vice president at Dublin, Ohio-based brand consulting firm WD Partners Inc.[WSJ]

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  1. UpsetPanda says:

    Quite simply, we are a culture of feelings, and most of us simply get this godawful ill feeling when we walk into a Wal-Mart. Chances are, most of us don’t feel quite so ill walking into any other chain store.

  2. serreca says:

    I don’t buy it… every time I go to WalMart it’s packed. You can’t beat their prices on basic stuff like groceries, cosmetics, and light bulbs.

  3. BrockBrockman says:

    Despite its apparent decline, Wal-Mart still gets 4.5 times more revenue than it’s closest rival, Target. Basically, the slight decline doesn’t mean as much as we would hope and like. There’s still a HUGE amount of wiggle-room for Wal-Mart to rebuild its image.

    But, hey, we have to start somewhere, right?

    That being said, I’ve still never stepped foot in a Wal-Mart, and know lots of people who never have and never will.

  4. mantari says:

    I was having trouble finding savings at Wal-Mart unless I was buying bottom shelf and generic items. I say ‘was’, because they finally drove me off a few months ago with their food safety issues.

    What were the issues? A fruit fly infestation on the tomatoes, going on for over a month. And then their open top freezers with frozen goods that registered ~20F on the thermometer, in the red zone, with many of the items on top having the frost inside of their packages thawed out. And heat damage to the shredded cheddar cheese.

    Yeah. I’ll only take quality being cut back so far. When we’re talking food safety, I’ll spend the extra cash.

  5. ClutchDude says:

    @serreca: I dunno. I’ve been noticing that more and more, Walmart’s Deals are getting slimmer and slimmer. CFL’s for example are just as cheap at Home Improve. stores as walmart. They are gonna have to rely on convenience and other service related tasks to keep people there.

  6. serreca says:

    @ClutchDude: Really? Admittedly I haven’t shopped around for CFLs lately (because they last forever) but they always seemed like a good deal at WalMart.

    I used to live right next to a SuperTarget and wish I still had regular access to it. I think a little piece of my soul dies every time I buy from WalMart. *sigh*

  7. FLConsumer says:

    @serreca: Oh yes you can beat that place — the $1 stores! The quality & products are just as bad.

    I can’t say I’ve ever found anything to be THAT much cheaper that it’s worth my time to shop/stop at a Mal-Wart.

  8. bohemian says:

    I can’t afford to shop at Walmart. Everything is so crappy that I would have to replace it sooner thus costing me more in the long run.

    I can get cheaper (cost) kids clothes at the mall by watching sales or at Target, they look better and last longer.

    I buy less and scrimp and wait for really good sales to get something that won’t fall apart in a month. Or I buy something really good quality second hand.

  9. workingonyourinvoice says:

    I’ve recently been enlightened to the WalMart grocery shopping. It really is a lot cheaper. Just avoid anything perishable. I do have to admit, though, a little piece of me dies every time I go in there. It’s always so busy, yet they’re never adequately staffed. You always get stuck in line for half an hour, and all you can do is look around in awkward silence at the poor bastards stuck there with you.

  10. LucyInTheSky says:

    if this is true, im having a party.

  11. humphrmi says:

    I wont shop at any big box after Venture closed down.

    Ben will know what I’m talking about.

  12. Adam291 says:

    I hope all you people who think saving 47 cents on a light bulb is worth the cost of child and slave labor in poor countries. People are paying with all but their lives so cheap Americans can buy crap at low prices. It’s disgraceful.

    And some of you might notice that prices vary between Walmarts, and savings might be negligible. This is because Walmart’s strategy is to open a store, undercut the price of local small-medium sized business, and drive all the competitors out. After they’re the only game in town, they can raise the prices and we’re not much better off with getting stuff at lower prices, but we’re much worse off by having the crap jobs Walmart offers and having a Walmart at all.

    Walmart is the single worst company currently operating in America, and I hope we realize they need to reform or we should boycott.

  13. ElizabethD says:

    When my husband loses his job and his unemployment runs out, my idealism about “worst employer” etc. takes a back seat to savings. And that’s the way it is for all those left behind in this polarized economy. I haven’t noticed WalMarts near me raising prices after initially posting low ones. Their prices *always* seem low to me when I comparison-shop.

    WalMart… the All-American store that Americans love to hate. (But I will agree to keep hating on those Totenkops shirts!)

  14. mantari says:

    @ElizabethD: “Their prices *always* seem low to me when I comparison-shop.” Ever comparison shopped soft drinks? I can always find a place lower than Wal-Mart. That’s just one example I’m familiar with Wal-Mart isn’t always the lowest price. Especially on higher end items.

    But, to their credit, if you go through the trouble of assembling competitors advertisements, and you find the exact same thing in the store, they’ll price match at the register.

  15. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Wal-Mart’s disgusting. Thankfully there are none in Manhattan. Besides I only buy my clothes at TJ Maxx and stores like that, and most of them are brand names and cost about the same as Target or whatever. I hope to get rich one day just so I can buy 51% of Wal-Mart’s shares only to disband that horrible travesty of a corporation.

  16. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Hopefully it’ll go belly-up on its own. Walmart treats its employees, customers, and suppliers like crap. I wonder why the suppliers won’t just drop Walmart. I would, in a second. Lower the quality of my products to meet your price targets? Screw you, go somewhere else. It reflects badly on my corporate image that I’m doing business with walmart, and that I’m selling things that will fall apart in a month.

    People might not notice when their products last them forever, but they DO notice when they fall apart in a month.

  17. FLConsumer says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: There aren’t the typical Mal-Wart customers within Manhattan either, which is better than not having a Mal-Wart.

  18. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Stupid Free Market.
    No way is Wal*Mart on the decline! That would imply that consumers vote with their money and that it is market forces, and not a bunch of legislation aimed at Wal*Mart that actually works to change things.

  19. Trojan69 says:

    Well, duh. Of course a consultant would proclaim that the wal*mart model is dying – he can’t beat it and he can’t recommend it to potential clients.

    There has always been a direct correlation b/t wal*mart profit rates and the price of gas. Even in the heady days of super growth, when gas prices shot up, as they have the past 18 months, profits slowed, as well.

    It is laughable that this article cites Walgreen’s as doing better. They just declared their first profit decline in an eon. What changed? Hmmm. Could it be that the generic plan instituted at wal*mart just slammed them? Nah, couldn’t be.

    All the “smart” money hates wal*mart because it is so ruthlessly brutal as to sharing wealth. They hate that they don’t waste tens of millions on advertising.

    Oh, and to use Best Buy as an example of a labor intensive, consumer savvy, retailer? Hello? Not on this site, they aren’t.

    The one real threat is, as pointed out above, the 99 cent stores. If P&G and other soap sellers are not careful, they’ll price themselves out of market share. That won’t be wal*mart’s fault.

  20. Boberto says:

    This is a bunch of crap. The real reason for WM’s decline in profit is the devaluation of the dollar and the UNDER valuation of the Chinese Won, which creeping slowly up.

    The dollar stores are having a very hard time with this as well. Neither they or WM can maintain their margins on these imported Chinese goods and resort to lower and lower quality of merchandise.

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: The “bunches of regulations” is designed to prevent Wal-Mart from screwing municipalities and taxpayers every time they open a new store. These tax holidays lasted just long enough for Wal-Mart to kill competing, locally owned businesses (which, lacking these sweetheart deals, couldn’t compete). Once the rebates ended, they’d set up shop someplace else (same extorted deals) and leave the old community a dead husk. Or a source of higher-margin sales to subsize their newer stores. Repeat as necessary.

    And, they’d force localities to subsidize their business thru welfare, food stamps and health insurance. Something local business wouldn’t do because they have a soul.

    The “bunches of regulations” addressed these evils. It wasn’t interfering in a free market, since Wal-Mart was gaming the system. Unless you think working people should subsidize Wal-Mart thru local taxes (no, right?).

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    At a basic level, what’s happened is that Wal-Mart has jumped the shark. They’re not cool, the underdog, or even a benign place to shop at anymore. Their past has (finally) caught up with them. The “eww” factor is part of their identity now. About time, and it’s a damned hard thing to get rid of once you’ve got it.

  23. timmus says:

    If there’s troubles they’ll probably just reinvent their image. Slap a coat of paint on the outside, change Wal-Mart to “Walton Square”, stick a cafe inside and kick out the McDonalds, and change the blue paint schemes inside to green. Voila, instant image transition.

  24. Steel_Pelican says:

    The last time I shopped at Wal-Mart, there was a survey on the PIN pad as I paid: “Was your store clean today?” and you could pick “yes” or “no.”

    I picked “no.”

  25. MatthewVA says:

    The WSJ also has a poll out showing that Republicans are concerned about foreign products. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents carry the view that “Foreign trade has been bad for the U.S. economy, because imports from abroad have reduced demand for American-made goods, cost jobs here at home, and produced potentially unsafe products.”

    No doubt Wal-Mart plays the lead role in all the above.

  26. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    And yes, who caused that to happen? Starts with Re and ends with publicans. They’re fired.

  27. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @Steel_Pelican:

    Yes, I’ve gotten that one and “Was your cashier friendly today?”

  28. Anonymous says:

    My wife hates WalMart. She feels like she needs a shower if she goes there. There’s product practically falling into the aisles, the corner displays almost restrict traffic, it’s just a mess of piled up merchandise.

    @bohemian – I agree. I’d rather pay more for quality and keep it for a few years than replace it over and over. There was a Readers Digest article about Snapper where they shocked Walmart by NOT wanting to be sold there. They weren’t willing to cheap out on labor, quality of materials, etc that Walmart was pushing for to reduce cost (and reliability)

  29. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    Ahh Wally World. When you live in a blue-collar rustbelt town and see workplaces closing; well it can make one sick to shop there. When you see people who have been laid off from their blue collar job there stocking up ‘cuz its the cheapest… and feeding their own demise.

    I hate the place. I’m not preaching politics, you can vote for whoever from whatever party you want…. but only one candidate was on the Wally World Board when the “Made in the USA” campaign was retired. That would be Hillary. If she follows the Wal-Mart logic, we’ll be booking flights to India for medical treatments.

  30. humphrmi says:

    @ElizabethD:

    The All-American Store…

    In what way? Because they do business in America? Because they were founded by Americans? In what way are they all-American? Because last time I relented to my conscience and stepped foot in a Wal-Mart, it was most assuredly NOT “All American”, it was filled with a bunch of cheap imported crap.

    OK Cheap, whatever, hope you survive your husband’s unemployment and get your idealism back. But hold off on the “All American” crap, eh?