What’s this? A tiny crack in the Wal? The Associated Press reported July 25th. that the Almighty Always had to lay off 100 of its “associates” at their headquarters and eliminated 300 positions that have gone unfilled. The AP says Wal-Mart keeps 11,000 workers at its Bentonville headquarters and has a total workforce of 1.2 million in the United States and international operations. These are the first Wal-Mart layoffs at its home office in six years. Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said the cuts were part of a “periodic review of how the company can trim expenses”, the AP said. Associates were apparently given 2 days advance notice they were losing their jobs. Wal-Mart blamed a downturn in the economy for being part of the reason for the cuts. “We always pay attention to the business,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said. “Now, we’re really paying attention.”
The AP article says that Wal-Mart same store sales (those that have been open for a year or longer) are the best measure of a retailer’s health. Wal-Mart had less than a 7% increase in same store sales, which is better than most retailers today, but also pales in comparison to where the company was at in the 1980s, when same store sales were in the double digits. Those increases have been cut in half in the late 1990s. These layoffs at Wal-Mart are a sign of turmoil beneath the smooth exterior of the Mr.Smiley Wal-Mart image. But 100 workers in Bentonville are not wearing happy faces today. One wonders what would have happened if those workers had been represented by a strong union?