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Why Are Walmart Stores Such A Mess?

Walter Loeb, Contributor

I cover major developments in the retail industry 

(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

Over the years I have visited many Walmart stores and have seen some very disorderly stores. But I found a store in total disarray during my visit last Saturday to the Pittsfield, Massachusetts store (number 1201).  It was disturbing.

Everywhere I looked, whether it was the men’s, women’s or juniors departments, merchandise was not well assorted by style, size, or color. There was no fashion message; and the presentation was poor–goods hung loose on separate racks in a most unattractive way. In the women’s intimate apparel department there were many bras on the floor – certainly unappealing, not to mention an unsanitary condition.

It wasn’t just apparel that was in disarray–the rest of the store was also disorganized and out-of-stock; for example, the pharmacy area had many empty spaces on the vitamin shelves as well as in other categories. In the vacuum cleaner department there were some machines on display – but no back-up stock to purchase; some styles were in boxes but not on display.  There were many other departments in similar conditions.   No surprise in such a poorly kept store, the bathrooms were both filthy and in serious need of management’s attention—to me this shows the disregard management has for customers and employees—not a good message. (We’ve reached out to the company for comment).

What happened to this standard setting retailer? Walmart always prided itself on neatness, cleanliness and full assortments of merchandise. It was Sam Walton’s creed to offer his customers the best values that were available. I walked Walmart stores with “Mr. Sam” many times—he cared deeply about people–he knew associates’ names and often recognized loyal customers. Sam has been dead over 21 years and unfortunately as the company has grown beyond his wildest dreams it has become a bureaucracy. The year Sam Walton died, Walmart recorded sales of $43.9 billion. In fiscal 2012 sales reached an astounding $443.9 billion. Walmart stores achieved $264.2 billion in the United States, and $125.9 billion in international sales. ...more

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