Is Walmart Too Cheap For Its Own Good?

According to a confidential report leaked to the New York Times by, Walmart’s low prices may be working against it when it comes to selling plasma TVs and more expensive clothes. From the NYT:

A confidential report prepared for senior executives at Wal-Mart Stores concludes, in stark terms, that the chain’s traditional strengths — its reputation for discounts, its all-in-one shopping format and its enormous selection — “work against us” as it tries to move upscale.

As a result, the report says, the chain “is not seen as a smart choice” for clothing, home d

cor, electronics, prescriptions and groceries, categories the retailer has identified as priorities as it tries to turn around its slipping store sales, a decline likely to be emphasized Friday during Wal-Mart’s shareholder meeting.

“The Wal-Mart brand,” the report says, “was not built to inspire people while they shop, hold their hand while they make a high-risk decision or show them how to pull things together.”

While we don’t disagree with the substance of the report, we do have to question the mind that thinks Walmart should be moving “upscale.” Let’s face it. Some of us are downscale, and that’s OK. Walmart is about as downscale as it gets without the addition of “99 cents” in the name of the store.

Anyhow, the report concludes that “our low prices actually suggest low quality” and that Target feels “like the ‘new and improved,’ whereas Walmart is ‘old and outdated.’ Hey, that’s true. —MEGHANN MARCO

Is Wal-Mart Too Cheap for Its Own Good? [NYT]
(Photo: J.D. Pooley/Getty)