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Peak Wal-Mart?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Walmart's growth model may be peaking due to structural declines in miles driven, income of its customer base and rising competition from dollar stores.

Structural declines in miles driven, middle and working-class income and rising competition from dollar stores may be leading to Peak Walmart. Walmart's model of superstores built on the edge of town with an inventory/distribution system based on high turnover may have reached the point of diminishing returns.

There are various signs of this, for example: Wal-Mart Nails The "Consumer Recovery" Coffin Shut (Zero Hedge)

Correspondent Mark G. ties together the long-term dynamics in this insightful analysis:

The proliferation of Walgreens & CVS standalone pharmacies, plus new construction standalone Dollar General and Family Dollar stores is reaching something of a critical mass. The only real difference between the first pair and the second pair of chains is Walgreens & CVS have a prescription drug department. Otherwise all four are nearly identical in format and product lines, including complete small grocery departments of dry goods and dairy products. These product lines are so low margin they haven't interested the Brown Truck Store (UPS) so far.

I've observed a rising number of young mothers pushing strollers in the neighborhoods where these standalone dollar format stores are appearing--in other words, car-less consumers.

I also note that all four chains prefer to build new stores in or on the edge of downscale neighborhoods. They do this rather than occupy the rapidly rising number of empty units at strip centers. And in point of fact Walgreens actually vacated a long-time unit at a local shopping center. CVS had built a standalone store on the corner across the street. Walgreens did the same a few miles down the road and also directly across from a Walmart Supercenter. The older Walgreen unit was then closed.

As Orlov and I learned in the USSR, you collapse with the infrastructure you have. Since consumers are having more trouble now getting to the stores, the stores are physically moving back to the consumers. Here we have stores proliferating that can be patronized and staffed by people without dedicated autos who instead walk or bike.

Car-less lower income consumers (and workers) look like major trouble for Walmart. A couple weeks ago in Fort Myers (FL) I noticed another of Walmart's "neighborhood" grocery store size format stores located in a strip center. The thought occurred to me that Walmart is doing poorly in an increasingly diverse array of activities. What's the point of moving into strip centers if Walgreens and CVS are moving out to be closer to their customers?

This theme also suggests a different angle for interpreting Walmart's tentative moves into Internet ordering and home delivery. Under this theory Walmart is principally worried about the proliferation of walking/biking distance neighborhood dollar stores.

Taken as a complete group these stores constitute a "Second Walmart" emerging to directly compete with the first Walmart at the bottom rung of the income ladder.
This makes more sense than imagining Walmart trying to compete with Amazon's wide inventory of high margin and low total national turnover items. That product array demands a compact warehouse distribution network to minimize inventory costs. Walmart's warehouse distribution network is instead optimized to throughput high turnover items.

The neighborhood dollar store story is ominous news for Walmart. The "Dollar Store" story suggests the bottom 25% of Walmart's demographic are losing their cars by force of economic circumstances. This is not something Walmart can do much about, if anything. As a result, Walmart is having its middle-class cream skimmed by Target while its base is being drained by car loss and the "Neighborhood Dollar Stores".

The question is not whether Walmart can survive another downturn but whether it can survive highly skewed recoveries like we're having.

Walmart's rise paralleled the rise of the one car per person household.The fundamental proposition of the Supercenter is you have to drive to get there. Therefore Walmart's decline will undoubtedly parallel the End of Driving.

I prepared the following spreadsheet to highlight the size and growth rate of "the second Walmart":


Company Ticker Price Employees Stores Annual
Quarterly Growth
Target TGT 63.24 361000 1856 $73.48 2.00%
Walmart WMT 74.65 2200000 10800 $473 2.30%

"The Second Walmart"

Company Ticker Price Employees Stores Annual
Revenues (Billions)
Quarterly Growth
Walgreen WAG 54.85 171000 8117 $71.35 3.20%
CVS Caremark CVS 57.78 203000 7458 $123.63 1.70%
Rite Aid RAD 4.89 50730 4615 $25.26 0.80%
Dollar Tree DLTR 57.44 15380 4700 $7.69 8.80%
Dollar General DG 57 90500 10866 $16.80 11.30%
Family Dollar FDO 72.57 33000 7600 $10.25 9.00%
Big Lots BIG 37.19 13100 1514 $5.42 0.60%
      576710 44870 $260.40  

Look at the revenue growth rates of the three non-pharmacy "dollar stores" in particular. (Big Lots is an older chain, and the ones I know of are all located in strip centers.) This is what is handicapping them. The three boldfaced "Dollar" stores are all opening standalone stores in residential neighborhoods. The first three drug store/variety store chains are also fairly included since Walmart also has pharmacies in most of its stores now. 

For Walmart, peak driving means very serious trouble ahead. The "dollar stores" have four times as many outlets, and they're opening more at a far faster rates.

Thank you, Mark, for an insightful analysis of primary trends in miles driven, income, demographics and retail. Peak Walmart may also presage Peak Mall Shopping and Peak Retail in general. The poaching of competitors' customers appears to be replacing real growth, and perhaps the impending demise of JC Penney is simply the first of many such victims of the retail shark pool.

Here are two charts of the structural declines in miles driven and household income:

Vehicle Miles Driven: Population-Adjusted Fractionally Off Its Post-Crisis Low (Doug Short)


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Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:35 | 4005349 hedgeless_horseman
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Shop "true" local.  Keep as much of your capital in your town as possible, so that it has a chance to come back to you. 

Stop shipping your capital to Wall Street, Wal*Mart, and The Great Wall.

Read The Geography of Nowhere.

Grow something!  Make something!

Yes, we even grow bananas, which are Wal*Mart's top selling item.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:35 | 4005377 BobPaulson
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Step 1: make lots of friends. Preferably not on the internet, but ones that live close by.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:39 | 4005387 hedgeless_horseman
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The best way to do that is by conducting honest business with your neighbors.  If you live in NYC, Chicago, Washington, D.C., or London, then good luck with that!

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:42 | 4005399 The Big Ching-aso
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I think the drop in customers is due to not enough of those rider lawn mower shopping carts.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 14:07 | 4006306 FEDbuster
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Dollar General is stocking more EBT items, too.  As we approach 50 million on food stamps, this too nibbles away at Walmart's EBT sales.

I look to Goodwill becoming the nations largest clothing retailer (by volume not revenue).  

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 18:21 | 4007312 Rantabulous
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I am not US. Goodwill from my brief Google does appear to be clothing donations or 'thrift shop' etc (what we in Aust generally call an Opp (Opportunity) Shop). I think you may be correct, but only for a short time.

I have been tracking this for a number of years now. I could probably write a book on it. (and I would if I thought I could make some money on it :) )

To summarise (at least the Melb/AU experience); we have had 'peak thrift shop'. quality, volume and range of choice are all dropping. Many shops still look full, but if you look closer at the shelves you will see less common sizes, XXXL shirts etc and lower quality - more wear/damage etc.

The number of new thrift stores opening is now less than the number closing (my best guestimate).

I am not sure about the numbers of people using thrift stores. My best guess is that there is a slight increase in number and this would be consistent with general trend going back at least 5 years.

As the consumer bubble has now popped, I believe in time we will eventually see thrift shops that are small, few, with limited range, and high wear that most people will choose as a last choice.

EDIT: if anybody is interested I would be happy to share some 'expertise' on thrift shopping and long term storage of clothing


Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:49 | 4005420 Ying-Yang
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Good comments Hedgeless...

Walmart has reached it level of incompetence.

Go local every way you can, starve the beast.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:42 | 4005404 DaddyO
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Great words of wisdom!

I have been saying exactly that for quite sometime.

It's the best way to starve the beast.

I finally got the bulk of my garden planted yesterday, onions, carrots, radicchio, 3 different varieties of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and beets.

I'll plant some tomato and pepper plants in moveable buckets to move them inside from frosty weather as it appears.

When you walk into a WalMart, have you ever noticed the chemical smell in the produce section, any grocery store or produce stand for that matter.

No funny smells eminating from my garden, nothing but the rich, aromatic smell of healthy earth, composted with maure from my horses.

WalMart is the new soup kitchen of this depression, that's what has supplanted the long souplines of the last depression.



Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:04 | 4005691 Oracle 911
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I hope you live in tropics (Puerto Rico) or in sub-tropics (Florida) or in Australia, because planting in autumn is really bad idea.

Believe me, I live in Europe and my family has a kitchen garden for at least for 50 years.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:39 | 4005390 pepperspray
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Maybe once we learn the rules of Obamacare I can hire an employee

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:40 | 4005397 akak
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Yes, we even grow bananas, which are Wal*Mart's top selling item.

In a banana republic, is that not only fitting?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:28 | 4005352 SheepDog-One
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No shit story....a local burger place that's been here since the early 50's went out of business, just saw yesterday what's going up in it's place....a Dolla-Holla Genral.


Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:27 | 4005353 Grande Tetons
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Back to the days of the cart and buggy. 

What the fuck...maybe another Gold rush. 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:31 | 4005359 SheepDog-One
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Today's 'gold rush' is taking place on reality TV...junk pickers.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:35 | 4005374 Grande Tetons
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True. What a commentary on how far this society has gone down the shitter.  I do not know about you..but where I live...pawn shops and WE BUY GOLD shops are springing up all over the place. 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:33 | 4005365 idea_hamster
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Maybe those AAA Buggy Whip company bonds that were the subject of so many derisive comments will turn out to be the real "long-term" winners!

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:48 | 4005423 Disenchanted
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Long horse whips...and sharecropping!

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:29 | 4005358 Shad_ow
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Peak America is the real story. 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:43 | 4005405 michael_engineer
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Here is a new term for you : Peak Decline

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:52 | 4005429 gnomon
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No, Peak World.  Just waiting for somebody to strike a match in this tinderbox.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:13 | 4005485 michael_engineer
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Peak Spoiled. So many people are so set in their ways and naive about what is happening around them and to them. You could say that they are in denial but I doubt they are even aware of enough details to be having doubts about the correct things. Peak Numb. Or Peak Comfortably Numb. As the level of comfort heads south I suspect the level of numb will head south too.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:20 | 4005774 Totentänzerlied
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To my mind, "peak access to credit" adequately explains it, going back through all of (agricultural and industrial) civilization.

And that's the real difference between the truly wealthy and everyone else: when the credit supply disappears, how much wealth, capital, hard assets, real resources, do they have left?

America is, and was, the richest nation in the world only if you ignore the distinction between credit and wealth. That paradigm is failing, the distinction cannot be ignored and hidden anymore. It was all bullshit. The only difference was access to credit. (Cheap energy was the key to getting this scam off the ground - there had to be things to buy with all that credit, or the jig is up, and making/selling/buying things requires lots of energy. From here it's but a hop, skip, and jump to peak spoiled - peak consumerism).

The sequence is more like: ignorance, apathy, denial, numbness. Very few have reached numbness or beyond, yet, but it's best to get it over with sooner rather than later.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:32 | 4006172 michael_engineer
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I see you got the cheap energy causality correct, as driving or leading into the creation of the credit bubble, and not the other way around as a typical economist might think.  But actually, we are still pretty rich in Peak Stuff.  Just having hammers, nails, screw drivers, tools,  clothes, shoes, etc has more value than what most people in the world have at their disposal.  But the credit genies and demons make it hard to put those things to productive use in this economic malaise.  

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:15 | 4005503 akak
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Peak 'americanism'.

Which is really peak "US 'american' citizenism".

It's the mattering thing.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:10 | 4005715 TheFourthStooge-ing
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Funny how this peak something has much easened acception when Chinese citizenism citizens are heavily invested in this something, with the opportunity of speculating about that something.

Not many who stand up against the possibility that US 'american' citizenism has peaked for the matter of peaking. Most Chinese citizenism citizens in here are heavily invested in US 'american' citizenism.

Change the wordings US 'american' citizenism to Chinese citizenism and a river of denial is cried.

It is Chinese citizenism game to claim that peak US 'american' citizenism already happened when actually too little data to infirm or confirm.

Chinese citizenism has a dimension of dementia, it exposes so much Chinese citizenism citizens and their eternal Chinese citizenism citizen nature.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:31 | 4005360 A. Buttle
A. Buttle's picture

So, short retail. 

Got it. Thanks,

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:32 | 4005364 Sudden Debt
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it all started when they stopped selling bullets...

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:32 | 4005366 stant
stant's picture

secular rise in rates will blow out that biz plan. goodbye big box 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:37 | 4005384 Grande Tetons
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I fully support a smaller box. 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:34 | 4005369 Bobbyrib
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I will repeat myself like a broken record: WalMart is a "victim" of its own success. Cheap forein made products will only take you so far.

With the Fed printing it won't matter, the Walton's can just rely on their stock holdings for wealth.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:38 | 4005386 earnyermoney
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Might as well change the name to EBT Mart.


Walton's sucking on the .gov teat.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:34 | 4005375 pasttense
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This "second Walmart" has very few SKUs compared to Walmart. So while one might do "one stop shopping" at Walmart, you are going to have to visit multiple stores besides a Dollar General. I think any recent declines at Walmart are due entirely to incompetent management rather than the superiority of very small format stores.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:49 | 4005424 adr
adr's picture

Dollar General and Big Lots are awesome. You can buy surplus product from Mexican and Chinese stores.

You can be happy to buy your kid a toy even Mexican and Chinese children didn't want.

My favorite thing about Five Below is that the entire store is stocked with inventory that didn't sell elsewhere in Big Box America. There is so much excess merchandice in US commerce that multiple publicly traded 500 store chains can be made out of the unsold inventory of publicly traded retailers. They can make a profit off selling a product for $5 that retailed at Walmart for $20. Tells you how much Walmart paid for it, and how much the product is really worth.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:02 | 4005458 Long-John-Silver
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They don't stock 25 flavours of Pasta Sauce or Peanut Butter. They have everything you need, just not the huge selections available in Wal-Mart. I like shopping in Dollar General. When the wife asks me to stop by and get something on the way home like Pasta and Sauce I never get harassment about what brand I purchased. She notes the Dollar General Bags and immediately knows I purchased what they had. It makes my life so much easier.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:42 | 4005623 pasttense
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The primary reason people make so many grocery shopping trips is perishables: fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, bakery--and the Dollar General type stores are particularly miserable in this area.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:35 | 4005378 Spastica Rex
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If consumers don't "want" more stuff every year, capital doesn't "need" two labourers from each "middle class" family anymore.

Beware of impending redefinitions of "middle class."

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:16 | 4005502 Bobbyrib
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That's great! Which country's middle class are you talking about? China or India?

Two labourers from each middle class family? Not in the US anymore..

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:25 | 4005544 Ying-Yang
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George Carlin Talks About "Stuff"

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:43 | 4005889 Totentänzerlied
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I have a very hard time believing that the demand (desire) on the part of humans is ever the limiting factor in this equation.

As I wrote above, the limiting factor is (access to) credit. It works in many ways, as regards dual-worker households. Gotta have a job to have income (suckas allowed income to redefined) and qualify for various types of credit (this is going back to the early days, 50-100 years ago). Gotta pay off your debts, so better keep that job. The wife wants shit you can't afford either, and presto-changeo women entering the workforce in droves (telling them not to becomes regarded as bigoted, sexiss, rayciss, chauviniss, etc.), not so much for meager income (about which the complaining endures to this day, hmmm...) but the access to credit it grants and the increased consumption it necessitates (many women - and now men - spend more on work than they receive from work, when you net out the all-in cost of education/training, business attire and equipment, second car, daycare, taxes, etc.). I could go in...

The redefinition of middle class which I eagerly await is: "a curious, transient socioeconomic phenomenon resulting from capital's intentional transformation of the merchant and artisan classes into a vanguard/buffer class (the bourgeoisie and petite bourgeoisie) wedged uncomfortably between it (capital) and the poor (mainly the urban laborers/so-called proletariat, but also rural "peasantry"). Born circa 18th century. Died circa early 21st century due to exhaustion of its food supply - credit-money, a synthetic asset derived from crude oil."

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:36 | 4006191 Spastica Rex
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Not bad! I used "want" in an abstract fashion.

However, a desire-based, rather than a needs-based economy (at least for the lower classes) is a fairly recent innovation. Tying consumption to self-worth was great for growth - while growth has been possible.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:37 | 4005379 Dr. Engali
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Walmart is becoming a victim of their own success. Their constant squeezing of manufacturers to cut costs, and their drive for efficiences have driven all the good paying jobs overseas and now there is nobody left to shop their disgusting stores except for those dependent on the government for survival.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:41 | 4005401 adr
adr's picture

But if they show revenue growth and the stock goes up, you can make money off shares you buy with Benny Bux. 

Isn't that all that matters?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:48 | 4005421 imapopulistnow
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They are following the footsteps of Kmart.  When sales growth began to fade, they raised prices and selectively ripped off their customers.  Now folks are looking elsewhere for bargains or just shopping at a closer store for convenience.  Perhaps the auto thingy is adding to their woes, but they were going down regardless.  They are a victim of pushing short term profit margins over long term customer loyalty.  Now they cannot break out of this downward spiral.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 14:53 | 4006508 MachoMan
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JFC, Walmart wishes it was that successful...  Walmart didn't cause these trends, rather it took advantage of them.  If you traditionally have a % markup on your items, then why would you give a shit where they're sourced?  Walmart simply followed consumers all the way down to their level of purchasing power.

Aside from the fact that you're complaining about walmart squeezing manufacturers to cut costs, but isn't that literally the definition of competition?  More specifically, fair competition (there have been more than a few public outcries with manufacturers telling walmart to eat a bag of dicks)?  It would seem that consumers benefit, no?  While many complain of the products being of cheaper quality, I'm not sure that's particularly quantifiable, especially when items cost fractions of their previous costs (although likely failing more).  Anecdotally every time my plastic cookware breaks (sometimes it actually gets a single use), then "I hate walmart, it's so fucking cheap bullshit rawrrr" pops into my head...  but not so much when the $10 dvd player or radio I bought lasts for a decade.

The other issue is that whatever source of products is cost competitive, walmart can push in its stores...  What many people don't realize is that walmart can lever up and sell higher quality/more expensive items, but competitors can't lower prices and develop as low cost leaders, but for walmart's abandonment of a particular market.  I also dispute the "amazon prime" model in that the fuel costs for J6P to go to walmart (especially in between home and work, leaving a marginal cost of $0) are less than the shipping cost of purchasing those goods over the net from an e-warehouser.  I'm not sure amazon has made a dime from this process, but I do appreciate the subsidy (poor speculation).

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:36 | 4005382 Debt_Slave_093824
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Brawndo, its got what plants crave. Its got electrolytes.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:38 | 4005392 q99x2
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They could always convert the stores to local dumps. The first time I walked into one that is what I thought it was anyhow.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:40 | 4005398 Spastica Rex
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Turn them into public schools. Fill them with computer terminals and enforcers armed with cattle prods.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:18 | 4005407 akak
akak's picture

I am proudly Wal-Mart-free since 2001!

Freeing onself of Wal-Mart is a twelve-step process --- or it used to be. 

Today, it usually takes more than twelve steps to walk around all the rabbit-breeding third worlders with their 18 kids and all the Jabba the Hutts in their fat transporters waiting for their rides near the exits.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 14:52 | 4006518 MachoMan
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C'mon mate, you don't like to go on safari every once and a while?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 15:30 | 4006706 akak
akak's picture

Not really --- and I have seen enough whales in Alaskan waters to last me a lifetime already.  The Walmartian land versions are much less awe-inspiring.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:41 | 4005395 adr
adr's picture

The problem is publicly traded corporations must show constant growth. The only way to show growth is to open more stores. The extra 20% off shipped product for new stores helps massively with the accounting fudge each quarter.

If I drive 20 minutes I can go to any one of seven Walmarts. I can also hit six Targets, four Best Buys, three HH Greg's, or any duplicated stores in three different malls. If I add twenty more minutes I can add another five Walmarts, four more Targets, three more Best Buys, and two more malls. Stores are massively overbuilt, and they wonder why 75% of the inventory is left at each store at the end of the season.

Best Buy doesn't need Circuit City for competition, they built so many stores that they compete with themselves. Stock analysts say, "Who cares, more stores just mean better service and more revenue." Well there is this thing called overhead and most stores don't sell enough product in a day to keep the lights on.

You think every Dick's Sporting Goods sells over $20k a day to match the claimed corporate revenue?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:23 | 4005533 Bobbyrib
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"The problem is publicly traded corporations must show constant growth. The only way to show growth is to open more stores. The extra 20% off shipped product for new stores helps massively with the accounting fudge each quarter."

QE solved that problem..No need for sales forecasts anymore. Ben prints, investors buy, middle class continues to go broke. Win/Win/Whothefuckcares (only us)?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:43 | 4005403 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

Ever notice Walmart likes to hire people that reflect it's core group of customers?  Fucking losers in other words?  Go in there dressed nice with no missing teeth and able to speak fluently good luck getting hired.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:49 | 4005417 booboo
booboo's picture

Now you just know that the state will double Internet taxes and I am designing the first method of attaching a license plate to a horse because you cannot move about freely in a police state without permission and a check to the state,

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:00 | 4005444 hedgeless_horseman
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It is called a brand.  Register yours, now, before all the cool one's are taken.  Frankly, many of the cooler old (read simple) brands are available, now that the owners have died or failed to re-register.

Maybe you want to look into becoming a brand inspector?  Job of the future?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:54 | 4005428 Long-John-Silver
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My local Dollar General store has so many people riding bicycles to shop in it Management had to put in a large Bicycle Rack. I'm also seeing a lot more people riding bikes. I never thought I would see this in America. Obama has truly "Fundamentally Changed" America. I've always enjoyed riding bikes and continue to do so. With increased numbers of bicycles on the road safety has also increased. Motor vehicle drivers now understand they must share the road with them. Police are also watching for drivers that harass cyclists. This includes tailgating while blowing their horn at them or passing way too close in an effort to scare them off the road. They write Reckless Driving tickets for instances of harassment which require a minimum $500 fine and can include a minimum of 40 hours of community service as well. Whenever I see one of these people on the Bike Trail picking up trash or cutting the grass I know they got caught and are paying for their stupidity. 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:10 | 4005487 gnomon
gnomon's picture

I am sorry, but riding a bike in traffic is the quickest way to enter the bowels of our new healthcare Ponzi, (or a pine box).  If you are not forced to do it, bike riding to shop is being penny wise and pound foolish.  Until the roads are rid of large metal missiles with texting teenagers I will refrain from such foolish behavior.

Who can put a price on pain free mobility and not dealing with the bureaucracy every day for the rest of your life?  Give me a metal can around my body, strapped in with a seat belt and an air bag ready to deploy.

I would wager that skydiving is safer than bike riding in traffic.

Why unnecessarily put yourself at the mercy of the incontinent and uncaring?  Ride your bike on designated trails and mountain paths.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:24 | 4005538 Long-John-Silver
Long-John-Silver's picture

I've rode a bike on local roads for more than 30 years. The vast number of drivers are courteous to cyclists. It's very few that get a bug up their ass when the come across a cyclist and harass them. Apparently most of them have been issued Reckless Driving tickets and Community Service because it's been over 2 years since I've been harassed or noticed anyone performing Community Service on the Trails and Lanes. I use Trails and Lanes where available but I refuse to be limited to only Trails and Lanes. How would you feel if motor vehicles were only allowed to use Interstate Highways?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:57 | 4005672 gnomon
gnomon's picture

I don't want to restrict anyone's right to ride their bikes in traffic.  For some people that is the only way they are going to get from A to B efficiently and quickly.  "Fairness" is not the issue for me, nor is irritation at bike riders.  The issue for me is saving my life and limb and not being at the mercy of dunderheads, not people who might be upset with my riding my bike on a highway or street.  

So far you have not been "dead right" in regards to your right to occupy your space on the streets.  I simply do not feel that lucky.  I want to stay as healthy and vigorous as I can for what is coming.  Why screw it up at this late date by taking unnecessary risks?

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:30 | 4005572 Bobbyrib
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People riding bikes is Obama's fault? It couldn't be multi-national corporations' fault for trying to get us on a level playing field with the "middle class" in China and India, could it? Way to play partisan politics.


In my experience, most cyclists think they are part of some super citizen minority, who disobey traffic laws like they are not another vehicle on the road.

'Red light? I'll just go around it in the shoulder, if someone hits me I sue them.'

I'm thinking you must live somewhere like Portland, Oregon.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:30 | 4006147 fallout11
fallout11's picture

Well said. If bicyclists want to act like automobiles and ride down the middle of the road, I expect them to obey the same laws as autos. Too many wanna-be Lance Amstrongs. Otherwise, get on the damn sidewalk that my tax money paid for but isn't being used and out of the street.
When I was a kid and road a bike we stayed out of traffic, "go play in traffic" was an epitaph.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:05 | 4005468 TrumpXVI
TrumpXVI's picture

So, I don't doubt that there's value in the CHS analysis, but there may be a number of reasons to move a store out of a strip mall.  One, not mentioned, might be that the single occupant big box is the owner of the real estate upon which the store is located as opposed to being a tenent.  The malls, probably in many cases, erected their rent structure upon a different (higher) cost, cost structure than a that which is currently available to an eneterprise that is willing to purchase and build new.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:11 | 4005488 grid-b-gone
grid-b-gone's picture

Peak housing, too.

Out of necessity, being conscious of one's carbon footprint, or just rejecting the notion of working 30 years to own a home, people are moving to less conventional options. 

Older singles are sharing homes. Families are staying together longer with adult children at home. Some of the trend is by choice.

Some young people are starting with tiny homes that give them independence, but at a cost that matches their income. 

19-yr old builds her own home.

Lauren Lister Yahoo tiny home report.

Having every modern convenience except dramatic vaulted ceilings and a 3-car garage at 20% of the upfront and upkeep cost leaves one with a much larger chunk of their lives to live the way they want.

Less Wal-Mart stuff, too. Lowe's and Home Depot will still be busy.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:21 | 4005531 flacorps
flacorps's picture

The trend of the major pharmacies (CVS and Walgreens) moving out of the strip centers and going free-standing has been going on for most of a decade.

Here in the Tampa Bay Area, Walgreens started it and Eckerd (later bought out by CVS) followed suit.

The free standing choice brought two advantages not mentioned in Hugh-Smith's piece or the comments that I've read. First, it got the stores onto the highly-trafficked corners, which back in the day would have had four gas stations but which are now down to one or two. Second, being free-standing allows you to have a drive through window at the pharmacy.

Of course, ownership of the building and perhaps even the underlying pad are both key considerations as well.

Many of the in-line shopping center spaces vacated by the major pharmacy chains have become Dollar Tree or downscale clothing retailers like Bealls Outlet or some of the other more urban-oriented chains.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:29 | 4005576 csmith
csmith's picture

Anyone who "shops" for household necessities at WAG or CVS is a fool, as the prices are outrageous.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:38 | 4005614 proLiberty
proLiberty's picture

Thanks to ObamaCare (tm), below a certain level all jobs will be part-time, less than 30 hours a week and with no "benefits". The SEIU Demographic will have to work at least two jobs and because of increased commuting costs and that they now pay the full load of what employers had previously paid via tax-advantaged compensation outside of their W-2 income. Their hope and change has become a predictable socialist nightmare. This is not good for WallyWorld, nor the rest of the economy either.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:38 | 4005842 sethstorm
sethstorm's picture

That can be fixed in a few good ways:



  1. Full-time status is instantaneous, which removes the part-time classification.
  2. Any minimum to meet a regulation is abolished (such as the 50 employees/30 hours threshold)
  3. Temporary/Agency/1099/Contract/etc. classifications require a conscious (and competitively superior) choice over full-benefit/full-time work; they cannot be a condition of accepting/continuing work (much like RTW & unions).
  4. Stricter penalties for using illegals.
  5. (Hopeful) Repeal of the 1965 Immigration Act, and all the regulations that came from it(H1-b/L-1/etc.).

In short, take all the means from employers to not act in good faith.  Someone has to remind them that they are only as human as the people they employ, not divine.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:43 | 4005636 dobermangang
dobermangang's picture

J.C. Penny's demise was due to Ron Johnson and Ackman and the JC Penny Board members.  The company wasn't dying when Johnson took over the company.  He basically destroyed it in less than a year with his insane ideas on retail.  Johnson drove the customers away in spectacular fashion. 

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:55 | 4005663 geoffr
geoffr's picture

I thought the strip-mall Wal-Mart stores were following the business model of Aldi and Trader Joe's (which is a subsidiary of one of the Aldi's).

Smaller footprint = lower costs.

The way Aldi works it instead of having 10 types of salsa they have 1.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:08 | 4005705 PoliticalRefuge...
PoliticalRefugeefromCalif.'s picture

I like to food shop at Sprouts here in Az- good pricing and an open air indoor approach- but it went public so probably within a couple of years it will look more like a Basha's or Safeway..

I like the little guy approach and hit the $tores for toothpaste and other essentials- after all a dollar is still a dollar until it's no longer mine.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:29 | 4005810 22winmag
22winmag's picture

I've shopped at Wal Mart for years, primarily for ammo, but also as a hobby to keep up with retail trends and retail sentiment.


Wal Mart is definitely past the peak in every way. Help was cut to the bone as of about 2 months ago and finding a sales associate is suddenly impossible.

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:01 | 4005977 lovejoy
lovejoy's picture

The new business model is too have a large number of products available, but keep local store inventory "bare bones". They want you to shop online. If the product that is not stocked at the store, order it online and pick it up the the following day at the store designate with no shipping charges. Wal-mart, Home Depot etc now do it.


And what is the best tool for consumers' determining what to buy? Customer reviews. I saw a stat last week that 80% of consumers now use their phone when shopping retail. They see something they like, they use the phone to find the best price and what others think of the product.


Amazon is killing retail and what amazes me is that their customer service is first class. Amazon send the promotion check to ..... :)

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 14:07 | 4006315 expiredeternity
expiredeternity's picture

10 years ago you would not see a scooter anywhere in my town..none! Today, they are everywhere, specially the 49cc ones that do not require insurance or a motorcycle endorsement. A car is a very expensive affair, eliminating it gets rid of monthly payments, insurance, registration, gasoline, repairs, tickets, etc.

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