Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cue the "Wal-mart Exploits Poor People" Stories

The Associated Press is reporting, via Yahoo! News that Wal-Mart's second quarter profits rose 17% over the same period last year.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said that net income was $3.45 billion, or 87 cents per share, in the three-month period ended July 31, up from $2.95 billion, or 72 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Now of course, just like the big oil companies, becuase Wal-Mart made money, lots of money last quarter, Democrats, union organizers and general Wal-Mart haters are going to start screaming exploitation, cruelty, and robbery.
For the quarter, the discounter posted a same-store sales gain of 4.5 percent. Same-store sales are sales at stores opened at least a year and are considered a key indicator of a retailer's health.

"We have improved customer traffic and ticket and overall sales growth in our markets," said Lee Scott, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores, in a statement. "While inflation and higher fuel costs are pressuring suppliers, retailers and customers worldwide, we're confident that Wal-Mart is well positioned for this economy."

But think about it. Wal-Mart's entire strategy is to provide everyday (and not everyday) goods at lower prices than anyone else. Thus, with rising gas prices, general economic slow-down (whether real or imagined), people start looking to save money. For example, my family no longer buys household cleaning supplies, paper products, and some non-perishable food items from our local grocery store. We get them at Target or Wal-Mart. Why? Because they are cheaper at those stores, it really is as simple as that. This year alone, I figure we have saved several hundred dollars by purchasing those staples from Target or Wal-Mart.

So if I, in my solidly middle class income, figure that prices are getting a little too high, imagine those folks with a little less wiggle room in their finances. They are going to seek out the lowest prices, period. Like it or not, Wal-Mart haters, the fact is that Wal-Mart almost always has the lowest price on just about every item you need: food, clothing, household supplies, health and beauty products, everything. Even those Wal-Marts that don't have a full line of groceries (including produce and perishable foods) can give you a pretty good selection of food staples for a very, very low price.

So Wal-Mart has made more money by selling more products at a lower price. They are attracting the people who are feeling the financial pinch and lots of them. Wal-Mart's tag line "Save Money. Live Better." really hits home doesn't it.

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