Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tough Environment For Consumers

Following is an excerpt by Bill Simon, Wal-Mart Stores' (WMT) President, CEO of Wal-Mart US. This was delivered at Goldman Sachs (GS) Retail Conference:
"Our customers are focused on their savings, and they need us now more than they ever have. Unemployment, we all know, remains mid-9s and doesn't appear to be going anywhere quickly. Gas prices are high. They don't appear to be going anywhere. We need to figure out how to operate in this environment.

The paycheck cycle we've talked about before remains extreme. It is our responsibility to figure out how to sell in that environment, adjusting pack sizes, large pack at sizes the beginning of the month, small pack sizes at the end of the month. And to figure out how to deal with what is an ever-increasing amount of transactions being paid for with government assistance.

And you need not go further than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month. And it's real interesting to watch,about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread, eggs, and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight, when electronic -- government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts and occurs. And our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher.

And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they've been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours -- come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason. And we have to look at that and we have to watch that and we have a commitment to serve those customers who need that. And we are very, very focused on that."

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