Walmart shoots self in foot, keeps shelves empty to save money


Walmart shelves are increasingly empty with the predictable result that customers are going elsewhere, to Target and Costco. Oh, the goods are in the stores but are piling up in the back. The problem is Walmart won’t hire enough employees to keep shelves restocked. In the past five years the numbers of employees at Walmart has dropped 1.4% while the number of US stores has increased 13%. For a supposedly savvy retailer, Walmart is shooting itself in the foot.

Target and Costco aren’t making these greedy short-sighted mistakes. Walmart’s big pitch is their low prices. Yet Target matches them on price now. Here in Silicon Valley, both Walmart stores do indeed have conspicuously numbers of empty shelves. Checkout lines are long. It’s not fun to shop there. By contrast, Target is clean, efficiently run, has much shorter lines, and shelves are full.

“We’re not getting as many sales because there’s simply no one to help the customers throughout the stores,” said Jackson, 24, who has worked at two Wal-Mart stores since 2009. “I asked, ‘Why can’t we have enough hours to make the store work?’ They said, ‘It’s orders from Home Office,’” she said.

Here in California, the venerable and iconic Trader Joe’s continues to thrive no matter what the competition. They have their niche and hugely loyal customers. One reason is the friendly service. You can always quickly find an Trader Joe’s employee if you have a question or need to find something. Too often at Walmart, there are simply no employees to be found. That’s the difference.