Thank you America for not doing your holiday shopping at Wal-Mart! There was “bad news” from Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville this week. Wal-Mart has lowered its comparable store (those open 1 year or longer) sales-growth projections for December, 2002 to 2% to 3% on the year for the five-week period ending Jan. 3. This is reduced from Wal-Mart’s earlier forecast of 3% to 5% growth for this period. Retailers in general have reported that this was one of the worst holiday sales seasons in decades. Companies like Target, J.C. Penney and Federated all reported weaker sales this year. Sales at Kmart for the period August, Sept, and October came in $383 million in the red — an even worse performance for the company compared to the same quarter last year, when they lost nearly $250 million. Kmart’s same store sales dropped 7.6% in this period. And toy store FAO Schwartz was in the news threatening to shut down 70 of its stores, in part because of competition from discount chain stores.
Make the following New Year’s Resolution for 2003: If you find yourself in the parking lot of a big box retailer, put your car into reverse, circle out of the lot, and either find a local store to do business with, or forego the purchase completely. You probably don’t need the item that brought you into the chain store to begin with. We not only want you to “thinkg outside of the box”, we want you to “buy outside of the box.”