Checkout counter-cyclical?

Is Lucky’s Wal-Mart version helping their shoppers discover better places to spend their money?

Checkout counter-cyclical? Knowing my fascination with Wal-Mart, one of this weblog’s seven readers (who is not a fan of the big box retailer) just e-mailed me a link to a Daniel Gross “Moneybox” piece on regarding the surprising news that Wal-Mart announced its early Christmas sales are lower than projected. Does this mean the consumer-sector of the economy is hitting the skids? Apparently not, as other retailers are reporting optimistic, even robust, numbers, according to sources like which reported that, overall, retail “sales for the week ending November 27 as compared to the same period in 2003 were up a healthy 11.6 percent. (ShopperTrack did note an “erratic weekend” that included a robust Friday and an off Saturday.)

Daniel Gross wonders if this sales disappointment from Wal-Mart means that its potential for growth has run out of steam.

However, I’m guessing (and it’s a complete guess) that a flat Wal-Mart performance vs. an improvement in overall retail performance suggests shoppers feel better about the economy. Perhaps those who “scaled back” the last few years and flocked to Wal-Mart and Sam’s are tip-toeing up-scale this season. No doubt, they’ll stick to Wal-Mart for the basics and commodities, but perhaps this year (at least early on), the word “Wal-Mart” is not popping to shoppers’ heads when they think, “splurge.”

But don’t pay too much attention to my guess, as my other theory is that Wal-Mart shoppers have been purchasing copies of that Wal-Mart version of Lucky Magazine and instead of reading the special Wal-Mart section, they are discovering there are other hipper places to shop. (Note: I don’t really have that theory — it’s a joke, people.)

  • Shawn Lea

    There are two departments in Wal-Mart that I think are done much better by other competitors: electronics and unique home items (in other words, not paper towels or potholders but throws, picture frames, artwork, etc.). And these are two of the biggest categories, I would guess, that Christmas shoppers are buying as gifts. Thus Wal-Mart’s trailing Christmas sales…according to Shawn, who has admittedly done absolutely no research except shopping in Wal-Mart and its competitors.

  • Hudge

    Living practically on the doorstep of a mega-ultra-super-dooper Wally, I can see that the parking lot isn’t so full as you’d think. I also learned that the local store anyway isn’t hiring extra holiday help. A little Googling led to stories that the chain as a whole was having a hard time finding satisfactory temp help. That could mean better jobs are coming on line, or, as at least one reader of this blog would say, people are wising up to Wally’s exploitive labor practices. Or it could mean they really are not hiring in an effort to reduce costs and offset a saggy bottom line.

  • Mond

    Realy good site!