Walmart Retreats From Germany

NYT reports Walmart wants to close its German stores, after years of failing to crack the Teutonic market.

Her tagline, “wie kann ich ihnen helfen” babelfishes into “as I can help them.” Her tears tell us otherwise.

The big box retailer had tried to soften the clash between local custom and American style, but was too late.

“In Germany, Wal-Mart stopped requiring sales clerks to smile at customers — a practice that some male shoppers interpreted as flirting — and scrapped the morning Wal-Mart chant by staff members.”

They were just too dern friendly, dagnabbit. Cult-like, too.

“They didn’t understand that in Germany, companies and unions are closely connected,” Mr. Poschmann said. “Bentonville didn’t want to have anything to do with unions. They thought we were communists.”

When will the healing begin? If you want to have an inkling of worker rights, you’re a communist. If you put too many workers in the oven, you’re a Nazi.


Edit Your Comment

  1. etinterrapax says:

    Honestly, I think Aldi’s just too big in Germany. Aldi’s got better prices, quality merchandise, and treats its workers better. It’s also a German company that understands the German consumer and has a long history of success and trust in the marketplace. Wal-Mart goes stampeding in there as an American hypermarket, where they’re already undersold and obviously don’t have much interest in the German consumer–what did they think would happen?

    A South Korean woman quoted at the end of the article also brought up the issue that’s preventing Wal-Mart from gaining a toehold in urban areas in the US: they’re very difficult to shop if you don’t have a car. And I don’t know if Americans actually have a bigger car culture than anywhere in the world or if it only seems so to me, but that strikes me as a huge problem with Wal-Mart expansion into the rest of the world. Many more people in other countries lack cars than own them. If I shopped there, I certainly wouldn’t fight those kinds of crowds for a single item.

  2. “If you put too many workers in the oven, you’re a Nazi.”

    omfg, talk about bleak humor. funny, though i’m gonna burn someday for laughing.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    My new favorite verb: babelfishes

  4. toomanyplugs says:

    Her tagline, “wie kann ich ihnen helfen” babelfishes into “as I can help them.” Her tears tell us otherwise.

    Babelfish is dumb. I’m surprised it didn’t figure this out; even my rusty old German can figure out it says “How can I help you”, duh. (Ihnen, since it is capitalized, is the declination of the polite Sie, like B61 in Russian, and Wie is simply “how”)

  5. Tommi says:

    I recently posted an article regarding Germany and the Wal-Mart pull out. Perhaps a bit off the mark, but maybe not.

    This pull-out is probably not going to be good for Germany. Although I am not a wal-mart fan, they have to be given credit for doing more than you would think they could or should do regarding staying in a (any) market. Wal-Mart is a krapp company but this will only make Germany’s doors that much more closed. And Germany cannot afford to become Denmark or Switzerland. The country should stay open and try to grow and maintain it’s world-class economic stature (which it’s been losing for years). I’m gonna catch a lot of flack for this statement but… the Germans are unable to manage their current political and social situation. They are pulling back too much and not moving forward. The generation running this country is clueless. For goodness sake, they are raising their value-add tax next year from 16% to 19%. I have never heard of anything more stupid. And to justify it the politicians say… “well, that’s what Denmark has.” I can say first hand that the social climate in Germany is as bad right now than it has EVER been.


  6. Consumer007 says:

    Hi – I agree strongly Wal-Mart sold out in Germany because it hates unions and workers rights. Caring about workers or letting them address any problems is a violation of their strong proud anti-union policies.

    I do a podcast and I’m currently doing a 5-part series about Wal-Mart and its abuses worldwide, check it out at Enjoy! (Episode 4 (Wal-Mart part 2) covers the union angle.