Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Oops on that DC Walmart love...

After "finishing" the ANC4B large tract review subcommittee report (look for the links here: Issues and Documents) on the proposed Walmart for Georgia Avenue, I am kicking myself for not including sections evaluating "the current conditions" of Walmart in more detail, including at least two factors:

1. the company's customer satisfaction numbers, which tend to be low according to annual surveys published in Consumer Reports and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (see "The Best And Worst Companies For Customer Satisfaction" from Forbes)--interestingly, when economic conditions change it appears that companies with lower satisfaction ratings pay the price in lost business;

2. and the problems with its business model in the current economy, which has driven the company to do crazy, outlandish things, such as consider opening urban store locations with an "urban" rather than suburban store footprint--smaller stores, stores on two floors, stores on upper floor locations, stores with underground parking, etc.

Bloomberg News reports, in "Traffic declines at Wal-Mart: An internal memo reveals visits drop 2.6%; rivals are up," that the company is still experiencing serious declines in business and customer counts at existing stores.

From the article:

Visits to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s U.S. locations open at least a year dropped 2.6 percent from February through June, according to an internal memo, while rivals are attracting customers.

Those Walmart stores had 82.8 million fewer visits through the first five months of the company's fiscal year than a year earlier, says the memo, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Wal-Mart doesn't disclose those traffic numbers, and David Tovar, a spokesman, declined to comment.

Wal-Mart's plan to recapture customers by returning thousands of products to U.S. store shelves has failed to reverse a decline in foot traffic at the world's largest retailer, said Jeff Stinson, an analyst at Cleveland Research Co.

That's primarily because Wal-Mart's core low-income customers are shopping less and going to other retailers more often, according to two recent shopper surveys. Many shoppers don't believe Wal-Mart's prices are the lowest anymore, the surveys found.

"The biggest issue remains weak store traffic," Stinson wrote in a July 14 report. "We believe sales have slowed in the second quarter and are running below plan primarily due to further traffic declines." The Cleveland-based analyst rates the shares "neutral." ...Sales in U.S. Walmart stores open at least 12 months have declined for eight straight quarters even as some of its direct competitors are getting more visits.

Meanwhile Walmart looks to be entering Boston, see the Boston Globe editorial, "Open dialogue is crucial as Wal-Mart moves into Boston" which basically argues for giving in, provided the company does a thing or two in return.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home