jokes in many boardrooms. I heard one journalist on a documentary about Wal-Mart say it best: "Sam Walton came in under their radar, and by the time he hit, it was just too late for them to do anything about it."
"Everyday Low Prices?" What part of that statement do Sears and K-Mart not understand? I don't know whether it is true or not, but I once heard the K-Mart circular in Sunday's newspaper cost about 8% of their total revenue. At times, I have compared prices between K-Mart and Wal-Mart, and usually, K-Mart is 15-20% higher. That means an item K-Mart sells for $100, is probably available at Wal-Mart for $80 - $88 - that is a big difference! And, it's just not K-Mart and Sears that don't get it. The other day, I had gone to Ooltewah to the bank, and remembered I had run out of deodorant that morning. I had a few minutes before the bank opened, so I ran over to Bi-Lo and bought a can of deodorant for $4.19 plus tax. I had gone there since it was before work, and I didn't think I would have time to get to Wal-Mart. That night, I ran to Wal-Mart to check their price for this story, and they were $2.97 - a 29% difference on one small item! Well, I'm no rocket scientist, but I don't think you have to be to figure out why Wal-Mart is taking over. "Everyday Low Prices" - that is what people want. K-mart gave us blue light specials instead. When that didn't work, K-mart put costly circulars in virtually every Sunday paper in America. When that didn't work, they gave us clothes with Jacquelyn Smith's name sewn in them. When that didn't work, they gave us Martha Stewart. When that didn't work, they merged with Sears. When that merger was announced, I thought when all else fails, try taking two wrongs and putting them together in an attempt to make one right!
Since the merger, the companies performance has been lacking, and Cleveland's own Alan Lacy has now been demoted from his position as CEO.
Bi-Lo, Food Lion, and other grocery stores are also losing ground to Wal-Mart, and their bright solution is to give customer "bonus cards." I personally hate those things - that's just one more thing in my already hectic life I have to keep up with. Hey, I'm a consumer and they need my business - why should I have to have a card to get their best price? A while back, Bi-Lo had a pre-packaged shrimp tray that was normally over $20, but with their "bonus card," it was $16.99. I went to Wal-Mart, and their "everyday low price" on the identical item was $15.99. Generic Raisin Bran at Food Lion last week was $1.99 with their card - Wal-Mart's was $1.89 without any card. No doubt the executives at Bi-Lo and Food Lion are sitting around scratching their heads (and possibly other parts of their bodies) trying to figure out why Wal-Mart is taking so much of their business. Why? Because they just cannot seem to grasp Sam Walton's very simple philosophy of "everyday low prices."
Now, I agree Wal-Mart has put the small local retailers out of business, and that is sad, but that is a reflection of today's economy. As the owner of one of those small retailers who is hanging on by a thread, I know how it feels. However, if it wasn't Wal-Mart, Target would probably be doing the same thing. Basically, America was built on a system of free enterprise, and Wal-Mart is the most successful example of that system.
I feel much of the criticism aimed at Wal-Mart is not because they have treated employees, women, and their suppliers any worse than their competitors have, but simply because they are at the top of their game - everybody always loves to take hits at the man on top!