|Founded||July 2, 1962Rogers, Arkansas, United States|
|Headquarters||Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S.|
Number of locations
|11,453 (January 31, 2015)|
|Revenue||US$ 485.651 billion (2014)|
|US$ 27.147 billion (2014)|
|US$ 16.363 billion (2014)|
|Total assets||US$ 203.706 billion (2014)|
|Total equity||US$ 85.937 billion (2014)|
Number of employees
|2.2 million (2014)|
|Slogan||Save Money. Live Better.|
|Footnotes / references
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., d.b.a. Walmart //, is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department stores and warehouse stores. Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, the company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and incorporated on October 31, 1969. It has over 11,000 stores in 27 countries, under a total 71 banners. The company operates under the Walmart name in the United States and Puerto Rico. It operates as Walmart de México y Centroamérica in Mexico, as Asda in the United Kingdom, as Seiyu in Japan, and as Best Price in India. It has wholly owned operations in Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. It also owns and operates the Sam's Club retail warehouses.
Walmart is the world's largest company by revenue, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2014, as well as the biggest private employer in the world with 2.2 million employees. Walmart is a family-owned business, as the company is controlled by the Walton family, who own over 50 percent of Walmart through their holding company, Walton Enterprises. It is also one of the world's most valuable companies by market value, and is also the largest grocery retailer in the U.S. In 2009, it generated 51 percent of its US$258 billion (equivalent to $284 billion in 2015) sales in the U.S. from its grocery business.
The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the company rose from a regional to a national giant. By 1988, Walmart was the most profitable retailer in the U.S. and by October 1989, it had become the largest in terms of revenue. Geographically limited to the South and lower Midwest up to the mid 1980s, by the early 1990s the company's presence spanned from coast to coast - Sam's Club opened in New Jersey in November 1989 and the first California outlet opened in Lancaster in July 1990. A Walmart in York, Pennsylvania opened in October 1990, bringing the main store to the Northeast.
Walmart's investments outside North America have seen mixed results: its operations in the United Kingdom, South America, and China are highly successful, whereas ventures in Germany and South Korea failed.
- 1 History
- 2 Operating divisions
- 2.1 Walmart U.S.
- 2.2 Walmart International
- 2.3 Sam's Club
- 2.4 Walmart Global eCommerce
- 2.5 Vudu
- 2.6 Private label brands
- 2.7 Entertainment
- 3 Corporate affairs
- 4 Charity
- 5 Criticism
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Early years (1945–1969)
In 1945, a businessman and former J. C. Penney employee, Sam Walton, purchased a branch of the Ben Franklin Stores from the Butler Brothers. His primary focus was on selling products at low prices to get higher-volume sales at a lower profit margin, portraying it as a crusade for the consumer. He experienced setbacks, because the lease price and branch purchase were unusually high, but he was able to find lower-cost suppliers than those used by other stores. He passed on the savings in the product pricing. Sales increased 45 percent in his first year of ownership to $105,000 (equivalent to $1.38 million in 2015) in revenue, which increased to $140,000 (equivalent to $1.69 million in 2015) the next year and $175,000 (equivalent to $1.85 million in 2015) the year after that. Within the fifth year, the store was generating $250,000 (equivalent to $2.48 million in 2015) in revenue. When the lease for the location expired, Walton couldn't reach an agreement for renewal, so he opened a new Ben Franklin franchise at 105 N. Main Street in Bentonville, Arkansas, naming it "Walton's Five and Dime." That store is now the Walmart Museum.
On July 2, 1962, Walton opened the first Walmart Discount City store at 719 W. Walnut Street in Rogers, Arkansas. The building is now occupied by a hardware store and an antique mall, while the company's "Store #1" — since converted and relocated to a Supercenter concept — is located several blocks west at 2110 W. Walnut Street as of 2015. Within its first five years, the company expanded to 24 stores across Arkansas and reached $12.6 million in sales. In 1968, it opened its first stores outside Arkansas, in Sikeston, Missouri and Claremore, Oklahoma.
Incorporation and growth as a regional power (1969–1990)
The company was incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on October 31, 1969. In 1970, it opened its home office and first distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas. It had 38 stores operating with 1,500 employees and sales of $44.2 million. It began trading stock as a publicly held company on October 1, 1970, and was soon listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The first stock split occurred in May 1971 at a price of $47 (equivalent to $274.00 in 2015). By this time, Walmart was operating in five states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma; it entered Tennessee in 1973 and Kentucky and Mississippi in 1974. As it moved into Texas in 1975, there were 125 stores with 7,500 employees and total sales of $340.3 million (equivalent to $1.49 billion in 2015). Walmart opened its first Texas store in Mount Pleasant on November 11, 1975.
In the 1980s, Walmart continued to grow rapidly, and by its 25th anniversary in 1987, there were 1,198 stores with sales of $15.9 billion (equivalent to $33 billion in 2015) and 200,000 associates. This year also marked the completion of the company's satellite network, a $24 million (equivalent to $49.8 million in 2015) investment linking all operating units with the Bentonville office via two-way voice and data transmission and one-way video communication. At the time, it was the largest private satellite network, allowing the corporate office to track inventory and sales and to instantly communicate to stores. In 1988, Walton stepped down as CEO and was replaced by David Glass. Walton remained as Chairman of the Board.
Retail rise to multinational status (1990–2005)
By 1988, Walmart was more profitable than rivals Kmart and Sears and was the dominant retailer in the Bible Belt; by 1990, it outsold both in terms of revenue and became the largest U.S. retailer by revenue.
Prior to the summer of 1990, Walmart had no presence on the West Coast or in the Northeast (except for a single Sam's Club in New Jersey which opened in November 1989), but in July and October that year, it opened its first stores in California and Pennsylvania, respectively. By the mid-1990s, it was far and away the most powerful retailer in the U.S. and expanded into Mexico in 1991 and Canada in 1994. It spread to New England, Maryland, Delaware, Hawaii, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest last, Vermont being the last state to get a store in 1995.
The company also opened stores outside the U.S., entering South America in 1995 with stores in Argentina and Brazil; and Europe in 1999, buying Asda in the UK for $10 billion (equivalent to $14.2 billion in 2015).
In 1998, Walmart introduced the "Neighborhood Market" concept with three stores in Arkansas. By 2005, estimates indicate that the company controlled about 20 percent of the retail grocery and consumables business.
In 2000, H. Lee Scott became President and CEO, as Walmart's sales increased to $165 billion. (equivalent to $226 billion in 2015) In 2002, it was listed for the first time as America's largest corporation on the Fortune 500 list, with revenues of $219.8 billion (equivalent to $288 billion in 2015) and profits of $6.7 billion (equivalent to $8.78 billion in 2015). It has remained there every year, except for 2006 and 2009.
In 2005, Walmart had $312.4 billion (equivalent to $377 billion in 2015) in sales, more than 6,200 facilities around the world – including 3,800 stores in the United States and 2,800 elsewhere, employing more than 1.6 million associates. Its U.S. presence grew so rapidly that only small pockets of the country remained more than 60 miles (97 km) from the nearest store.
As Walmart rapidly expanded into the world's largest corporation, many critics worried about its effect on local communities, particularly small towns with many "mom and pop" stores. There have been several studies on the economic impact of Walmart on small towns and local businesses, jobs, and taxpayers. In one, Kenneth Stone, a Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, found that some small towns can lose almost half of their retail trade within ten years of a Walmart store opening. However, in another study, he compared the changes to what small town shops had faced in the past – including the development of the railroads, the advent of the Sears Roebuck catalog, as well as the arrival of shopping malls – and concluded that shop owners who adapt to changes in the retail market can thrive after Walmart arrives. A later study in collaboration with Mississippi State University showed that there are "both positive and negative impacts on existing stores in the area where the new supercenter locates."
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, Walmart used its logistics network to organize a rapid response to the disaster, donating $20 million (equivalent to $24.2 million in 2015) in cash, 1,500 truckloads of merchandise, food for 100,000 meals, as well as the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers. An independent study by Steven Horwitz of St. Lawrence University found that Walmart, The Home Depot and Lowe's made use of their local knowledge about supply chains, infrastructure, decision makers and other resources to provide emergency supplies and reopen stores well before FEMA began its response. While the company was overall lauded for its quick response – amidst the criticisms of the Federal Emergency Management Agency – several critics were nonetheless quick to point out that there still remain issues with the company's labor relations.
In October 2005, Walmart announced several environmental measures to increase energy efficiency. The primary goals included spending $500 million (equivalent to $604 million in 2015) a year to increase fuel efficiency in Walmart's truck fleet by 25 percent over three years and double it within ten, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in seven years, reduce energy use at stores by 30 percent, and cut solid waste from U.S. stores and Sam's Clubs by 25 percent in three years. CEO Lee Scott said that Walmart's goal was to be a "good steward for the environment" and ultimately use only renewable energy sources and produce zero waste. The company also designed three new experimental stores with wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panels, biofuel-capable boilers, water-cooled refrigerators, and xeriscape gardens. Despite much criticism of its environmental record, Walmart took a few steps in what some viewed as a positive direction, which included becoming the biggest seller of organic milk and the biggest buyer of organic cotton in the world, as well as reducing packaging and energy costs. Walmart also spent nearly a year working with outside consultants to discover the company's total environmental impact and find areas for improvement. Walmart has also recently created its own electric company in Texas, Texas Retail Energy, and plans to supply its stores with cheap power purchased at wholesale prices. Through this new venture, the company expects to save $15 million annually and also to lay the groundwork and infrastructure to sell electricity to Texas consumers in the future.
In March 2006, Walmart sought to appeal to a more affluent demographic. The company launched a new Supercenter concept in Plano, Texas, intended to compete against stores seen as more upscale and appealing, such as Target. The new store has wood floors, wider aisles, a sushi bar, a coffee/sandwich shop with free Wi-Fi Internet access, and more expensive beers, wines, electronics, and other goods. The exterior has a hunter green background behind the Walmart letters, similar to Neighborhood Market by Walmarts, instead of the blue previously used at its supercenters.
On September 12, 2007, Walmart introduced new advertising with the slogan, "Save money. Live better.", replacing "Always Low Prices, Always", which it had used for the previous 19 years. Global Insight, which conducted the research that supported the ads, found that Walmart's price level reduction resulted in savings for consumers of $287 billion in 2006 (equivalent to $336 billion in 2015), which equated to $957 (equivalent to $1.12 thousand in 2015) per person or $2,500 (equivalent to $2.93 thousand in 2015) per household (up 7.3 percent from the 2004 savings estimate of $2,329 (equivalent to $2.91 thousand in 2015)).
On June 30, 2008, Walmart removed the hyphen from its logo and replaced the star with a symbol that resembles a sunburst, flower, or the star in the star of life. The new logo received mixed reviews from design critics, who questioned whether the new logo was as bold as those of competitors, such as the Target bullseye or as instantly recognizable as the previous company logo, which was used for 18 years. The new logo made its debut on the company's website on July 1, 2008. Walmart's U.S. locations were to update store logos in the fall of 2008, as part of an ongoing evolution of its brand. Walmart Canada started to adopt the logo for its stores in early 2009.
On March 20, 2009, Walmart announced that it is paying a combined $933.6 million (equivalent to $1.03 billion in 2015) in bonuses to every full and part-time hourly worker. This in addition to $788.8 million (equivalent to $867 million in 2015) in profit sharing, 401(k) pension contributions, hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts, and contributions to the employees' stock purchase plan. While the economy at large was in an ongoing recession, the largest retailer in the U.S. reported solid financial figures for the most recent fiscal year (ending January 31, 2009), with $401.2 billion (equivalent to $441 billion in 2015) in net sales, a gain of 7.2 percent from the prior year. Income from continuing operations increased 3 percent to $13.3 billion (equivalent to $14.6 billion in 2015), and earnings per share rose 6 percent to $3.35. However, during the same decade, it became clear that many millions of dollars were spent by U.S. state or federal governments every year to provide basic health and welfare services to Walmart employees.
On July 16, 2009, Walmart announced plans to develop a worldwide sustainable product index.
Current developments (2011-present)
In January 2011, at the urging of Michelle Obama and her staff, Walmart announced a program to improve the nutritional value of its store brands over five years, gradually reducing the amount of salt and sugar, and eliminating trans fat. Walmart also promised to negotiate with suppliers with respect to nutritional issues. Reductions in the prices of whole foods and vegetables were also promised as well as efforts to open stores in low-income areas, "food deserts", where there are no supermarkets.
On April 23, 2011, the company announced that it was testing its new "Walmart To Go" home delivery system where customers will be able to order specific items offered on their website. The initial test was in San Jose, California, and the company has not said whether it will be rolled out nationwide. On November 14, 2012, Walmart launched their first mail subscription service called Goodies. Customers pay a $7 monthly subscription for five to eight delivered food samples each month, so they can try new foods.
In June 2014, some Walmart employees went on strike in major U.S. cities demanding higher wages.
In July 2014, American actor and comedian Tracy Morgan launched a lawsuit against Walmart seeking punitive damages over a multi-car pile-up which the suit alleges was caused by the driver of one of the firm's tractor-trailers who had not slept for 24 hours. Morgan's limousine was apparently hit by the trailer, injuring him and two fellow passengers and killing a fourth, fellow comedian James McNair.
Walmart's operations are organized into three divisions: Walmart U.S., Sam's Club, and Walmart International. The company offers nine retail formats: supercenters, food and drugs, general merchandise stores, bodegas (small markets), cash and carry stores, membership warehouse clubs, apparel stores, soft discount stores and restaurants.
Walmart U.S. is the company's largest division, accounting for $258 billion (equivalent to $279 billion in 2015), or 63.8 percent of total sales, for fiscal 2010. It consists of three retail formats that have become commonplace in the United States: Discount Stores, Supercenters, and Walmart Markets. The retail department stores sell a variety of mostly non-grocery products, though emphasis has now shifted towards supercenters, which include more groceries. This division also includes Walmart's online site, walmart.com.
The president and CEO of Walmart U.S. is Greg Foran.
Walmart Supercenters are hypermarkets with size varying from 98,000 to 261,000 square feet (9,104.5 to 24,247.7 m2), with an average of about 197,000 square feet (18,301.9 m2). These stock everything a Walmart discount store does, but also include a full-service supermarket, including meat and poultry, baked goods, delicatessen, frozen foods, dairy products, garden produce, and fresh seafood. Many Walmart Supercenters also have a garden center, pet shop, pharmacy, Tire & Lube Express, optical center, one-hour photo processing lab, portrait studio, and numerous alcove shops, such as cellular phone stores, hair and nail salons, video rental stores, local bank branches (newer locations have Woodforest National Bank branches), and fast food outlets, usually Subway but sometimes Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, Wendy's, Checker's, or Blimpie. Many often featured McDonald's stores, but in 2007, Walmart announced to stop opening McDonald's restaurants at most of their newer stores. Most locations that opened up after the announcement had Subway as their restaurant. Some McDonald's inside the Walmarts were even replaced with Subway. Some also sell gasoline distributed by Murphy Oil Corporation (whose Walmart stations are branded as "Murphy USA"), Sunoco, Inc. ("Optima"), or Tesoro Corporation ("Mirastar").
The first Supercenter opened in 1988, in Washington, Missouri. A similar concept, Hypermart USA, had opened in Garland, Texas a year earlier. All Hypermart USA stores were later closed or converted into Supercenters.
As of February 2015[update], there were 3,401 Walmart Supercenters in the United States. The largest Supercenter in the United States, covering 260,000 square feet (24,154.8 m2) and two floors, is located in Crossgates Commons in Albany, New York. The second largest, covering 220,000 square feet (20,438.7 m2), is located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
The "Supercenter" portion of the name has been phased out, simply referring to these stores as "Walmart", since the company introduced the new Walmart logo in 2008. The Supercentre name is still used in Canada.
Walmart Discount Stores
Walmart Discount Stores are discount department stores with sizes varying from 51,000 to 224,000 square feet (4,738.1 to 20,810.3 m2), with the average store covering about 102,000 square feet (9,476.1 m2). They carry general merchandise and a selection of groceries. Many of these stores also feature a garden center, pharmacy, tire & Lube Express, optical center, one-hour photo processing lab, portrait studio, a bank branch, a cell phone store and a fast food outlet, usually Subway or McDonald's. Some also have gasoline stations.
In 1990, Walmart opened its first Bud's Discount City location in Bentonville. Bud's operated as a closeout store, much like Big Lots. Many locations were opened to fulfill leases in shopping centers as Walmart stores left and moved into newly built Supercenters. All of the Bud's Discount City stores closed or converted into Walmart Discount Stores by 1997.
Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Market is a chain of grocery stores that average about 42,000 square feet (3,901.9 m2). They are used to fill the gap between discount store and supercenters, offering a variety of products, including full lines of groceries, pharmaceuticals, health and beauty aids, photo developing services, and a limited selection of general merchandise.
Supermercado de Walmart
Walmart opened "Supermercado de Walmart" locations to appeal to Hispanic communities in the United States. The first one, a 39,000 square feet (3,600 m2) store in the Spring Branch area of Houston, opened on April 29, 2009. The store was a conversion of an existing Walmart Neighborhood Market. The opening was Walmart's first entry in the Hispanic grocery market in Houston. In 2009, another Supermercado de Walmart opened in Phoenix, Arizona.
Walmart Express is a chain of smaller discount stores, with a range of services, from groceries to check cashing and gasoline service. The concept is focused on small towns not able to support a larger store, and in large cities where space is at a premium.
Walmart planned to build 15 to 20 Walmart Express stores, focusing on Arkansas, North Carolina and Chicago, by the end of its fiscal year in January 2012.
In September 2006, Walmart announced a pilot program to sell generic drugs at $4 per prescription. The program was launched at stores in the Tampa, Florida area, and expanded to all stores in Florida by January 2007. While the average price of generics is $29 (equivalent to $34.00 in 2015) per prescription, compared to $102 (equivalent to $119.00 in 2015) for name-brand drugs, Walmart maintains that it is not selling at a loss, or providing as an act of charity – instead, they are using the same mechanisms of mass distribution that it uses to bring lower prices to other products. Many of Walmart's low cost generics are imported from India and made by drug makers in the country, including Ranbaxy and Cipla.
On February 6, 2007, the company launched a "beta" version of a movie download service, which sold about 3,000 films and television episodes from all major studios and television networks. The service was discontinued on December 21, 2007, due to low sales.
From 2008 through 2011, Walmart operated a pilot program in the small grocery store concept called Marketside in the metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona area. They plan to incorporate what they have learned from this concept into their Walmart Express stores.
As of January 2014[update], Walmart's international operations comprised 6,337 stores and 800,000 workers in 26 countries outside the United States. There are wholly owned operations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and the UK. With 2.2 million employees worldwide, the company is the largest private employer in the U.S. and Mexico, and one of the largest in Canada. In fiscal 2010, Walmart's international division sales were $100 billion (equivalent to $108 billion in 2015), or 24.7 percent of total sales.
Walmart's Mexico division, the largest outside the U.S., consists of 2,290 stores.
Walmart has operated in Canada since it acquired 122 stores comprising the Woolco division of Woolworth Canada, Inc in 1994. As of January 2015[update], it operates over 394 locations (including 280 supercentres and 114 discount stores) and employs 95,000 people, with a local home office in Mississauga, Ontario. Walmart Canada's first three Supercentres (spelled as in Canadian English) opened in November 2006 in Hamilton, London, and Aurora, Ontario. The 100th Canadian Supercentre opened in July 2010, in Victoria, BC.
In 2010, Walmart Canada Bank was introduced with the launch of the Walmart Rewards MasterCard.
In 2004, Walmart bought the 118 stores in the Bompreço supermarket chain in northeastern Brazil. In late 2005, it took control of the Brazilian operations of Sonae Distribution Group through its new subsidiary, WMS Supermercados do Brasil, thus acquiring control of the Nacional and Mercadorama supermarket chains, the leaders in the Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná states, respectively. None of these stores were rebranded. As of January 2014[update], Walmart operated 61 Super-Bompreço stores, 39 Hiper-Bompreço stores. It also ran 57 Walmart Supercenters, 27 Sam's Club stores, and 174 Todo Dia stores. With the acquisition of Bompreço and Sonae, by 2010, Walmart was the third largest supermarket chain in Brazil, behind Carrefour and Pão de Açúcar. Walmart Brasil, the operating company, has its head office in Barueri, São Paulo State, and regional offices in Curitiba, Paraná; Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul; Recife, Pernambuco; and Salvador, Bahia.
Walmart also owns 51 percent of the Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHCO), consisting of more than 360 stores in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
Walmart's UK subsidiary Asda (which retained its name after being acquired by Walmart) accounted for 42.7 percent of 2006 sales of Walmart's international division. In contrast to the U.S. operations, Asda was originally and still remains primarily a grocery chain, but with a stronger focus on non-food items than most UK supermarket chains other than Tesco. As of January 2014[update], Asda had 573 stores, including 147 from the 2010 acquisition of Netto. In addition to small suburban Asda stores, larger stores are branded Asda Walmart Supercentres, as well as Asda Superstores and Asda Living.
In February 2012, Walmart announced that the company raises its stake to 51 percent in Chinese online supermarket Yihaodian to tap rising consumer wealth and help the company offer more product. The stake expansion is subject to Chinese government regulatory approval.
In November 2006, the company announced a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises to operate in India. As foreign corporations were not allowed to directly enter the retail sector, Walmart operated through franchises and handled the wholesale end. The partnership involves two joint ventures; Bharti manages the front end involving opening of retail outlets, while Walmart takes care of the back end, such as cold chains and logistics. Bharti Walmart operates stores in India under the brand name "Best Price Modern Wholesale". The first store opened in Amritsar in May 2012. On September 14, 2012, the Government of India approved 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retails, subject to approvals by individual states, effective September 20, 2012. Scott Price, Walmart's president and CEO for Asia, told The Wall Street Journal that the company would be able to start opening Walmart stores in India within two years. Expansion into India faced some significant problems. In November 2012, Walmart admitted to spending $25 million (equivalent to $25.7 million in 2015) lobbying Congress - lobbying is conventionally considered bribery in India. Walmart is conducting an internal investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Bharti Walmart suspended a number of employees, rumored to include its CFO and legal team, to ensure "a complete and thorough investigation."
On September 28, 2010, Walmart announced it would buy Massmart Holdings Ltd. of Johannesburg, South Africa in a deal worth over $4 billion (equivalent to $4.33 billion in 2015), giving the company its first footprint in Africa.
In the mid-1990s, Walmart tried with a large financial investment to get a foothold in the German retail market. In 1997, Walmart took over the supermarket chain Wertkauf with its 21 stores for DEM750 million (equivalent to DM909 million in 2015) (€375 million) and in 1998, Walmart acquired 74 Interspar stores for DEM1.3 billion (equivalent to DM1.55 billion in 2015) (€750 million).
The German market at this point was an oligopoly with high competition among companies which used a similar low price strategy as Walmart. As a result, Walmart's low price strategy yielded no competitive advantage. Also Walmart's corporate culture was not viewed positively among employees and customers, particularly Walmart's "statement of ethics", which restricted relationships between employees and led to a public discussion in the media, resulting in a bad reputation among customers.
In July 2006, Walmart announced its withdrawal from Germany due to sustained losses. The stores were sold to the German company Metro during Walmart's fiscal third quarter. Walmart did not disclose its losses from its German investment, but they were estimated around €3 billion.
An April 2012 investigative report by The New York Times reported that a former executive of Walmart de Mexico alleged that, in September 2005, the company had paid bribes via local fixers to officials throughout Mexico in exchange for construction permits, information, and other favors, which gave Walmart a substantial advantage over competitors. Walmart investigators found credible evidence that Mexican and American laws had been broken. Concerns were also raised that Walmart executives in the United States "hushed up" the allegations. A follow-up investigation by The New York Times, published December 17, 2012, revealed evidence that regulatory permission for siting, construction, and operation of nineteen stores had been obtained through bribery. There was evidence that a bribe of $52,000 (equivalent to $64.9 thousand in 2015) was paid to change a zoning map, which enabled the opening of a Walmart store a mile from a historical site in San Juan Teotihuacán in 2004. After the initial article was released, Walmart released a statement denying the allegations and describing its anti-corruption policy. While an official Walmart report states that they found no evidence of corruption, the article alleges that previous internal reports had indeed turned up such evidence before the story became public. Forbes magazine contributor Adam Hartung also alluded that the bribery scandal was a reflection of Walmart's "serious management and strategy troubles," stating, "[s]candals are now commonplace ... [e]ach scandal points out that Walmart's strategy is harder to navigate and is running into big problems."
As of December 2012, internal investigations were ongoing into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Walmart has invested $99 million (equivalent to $102 million in 2015) on internal investigations, which expanded beyond Mexico to implicate operations in China, Brazil, and India. The case has added fuel to the debate as to whether foreign investment will result in increased prosperity, or if it merely allows local retail trade and economic policy to be taken over by "foreign financial and corporate interests."
Sam's Club is a chain of warehouse clubs that sell groceries and general merchandise, often in bulk. Sam's Club stores are "membership" stores where most customers buy annual memberships. There are three kinds of memberships of Sam's Club: Sam's Plus, Sam's Business and Sam's Savings. Each of these memberships provides customers various benefits and convenience. However, non-members can make purchases either by buying a one-day membership or paying a surcharge based on the price of the purchase. Some locations also sell gasoline. The first Sam's Club opened in 1983 in Midwest City, Oklahoma under the name "Sam's Wholesale Club".
Sam's Club has found a niche market in recent years as a supplier to small businesses. All Sam's Club stores are open early hours exclusively for business members and their old slogan was "We're in Business for Small Business." Their slogan has been "Savings Made Simple" since late 2009, as Sam's Club attempts to attract a more diverse member base. In March 2009, the company announced that it plans to enter the electronic medical records business by offering a software package to physicians in small practices for $25,000. Walmart is partnering with Dell and eClinicalWorks.com in this new venture.
Sam's Club's sales were $47 billion (equivalent to $50.8 billion in 2015), or 11.5 percent of total Walmart sales, during fiscal 2010. As of February 2015[update], there were 645 Sam's Clubs in the United States. Walmart also operates more than 100 international Sam's Clubs in Mexico, Brazil, China, and Puerto Rico.
Walmart Global eCommerce
Based in San Francisco, California, Walmart's Global eCommerce division provides online retailing for Walmart, Sam's Club, ASDA and all other international brands. The mission is to combine technology and world-class retailing to provide seamless online shopping experience through websites like www.walmart.com, www.samsclub.com, www.wal-martchina.com, www.asda.com, www.walmart.com.br, www.walmart.com.ar, and www.walmart.ca. There are three locations in the United States which are all located in California. They are San Bruno, Sunnyvale, Brisbane. Locations outside of the United States include Shanghai (China) and Bangalore (India).
In February 2010, Walmart agreed to buy Vudu, a Silicon Valley start-up whose three-year-old online movie service is being built into an increasing number of televisions and Blu-ray players. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but a person briefed on the deal said the price for the company, which raised $60 million (equivalent to $64.9 million in 2015) in capital, was over $100 million (equivalent to $108 million in 2015). It is the third most popular online movie service, with a market share of 5.3 percent.
Private label brands
About 40 percent of products sold in Walmart are private label store brands, which are produced for the company through contracts with manufacturers. Walmart began offering private label brands in 1991, with the launch of Sam's Choice, a line of drinks produced by Cott Beverages for Walmart. Sam's Choice quickly became popular and by 1993, was the third most popular beverage brand in the United States. Other Walmart brands include Great Value and Equate in the U.S. and Canada and Smart Price in Britain. A 2006 study talked of "the magnitude of mind-share Walmart appears to hold in the shoppers' minds when it comes to the awareness of private label brands and retailers."
In 2010, the company teamed with Procter & Gamble to produce Secrets of the Mountain and The Jensen Project, two-hour family movies which featured the characters using Walmart and Procter & Gamble branded products. The Jensen Project also featured a preview of a product to be released in several months in Walmart stores. A third movie, A Walk in My Shoes, also aired in 2010 and a fourth is in production[when?]. Walmart's director of brand marketing also serves as co-chair of the Association of National Advertisers's Alliance for Family Entertainment.
Walmart is headquartered in the Walmart Home Office complex in Bentonville, Arkansas. The company's business model is based on selling a wide variety of general merchandise at low prices. The company refers to employees as "associates". All Walmart stores in the U.S. and Canada also have designated "greeters" at the entrance, a practice pioneered by Sam Walton and later imitated by other retailers. Greeters are trained to help shoppers find what they want and answer their questions. For many years, associates were identified in the store by their signature blue vest, but this practise was discontinued in June 2007 and replaced with khaki pants and polo shirts. The wardrobe change was part of a larger corporate overhaul to increase sales and rejuvenate the company's stock price.
Unlike many other retailers, Walmart does not charge slotting fees to suppliers for their products to appear in the store. Instead, it focuses on selling more popular products and provides incentives for store managers to drop unpopular products.
On September 14, 2006, the company announced that it would phase out its layaway program, citing declining use and increased costs. Layaway ceased on November 19, 2006, and required merchandise pickup by December 8, 2006. Walmart now focuses on other payment options, such as increased use of six- and twelve-month, zero-interest financing. The layaway location in most stores is now used for Walmart's Site-To-Store program, which was introduced in March 2007. This enables walmart.com customers to buy goods online with a free shipping option, and have goods shipped to the nearest store for pickup.
Finance and governance
For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2011, Walmart reported net income of $15.4 billion (equivalent to $16.1 billion in 2015) on $422 billion (equivalent to $442 billion in 2015) of revenue with a 24.7 percent gross profit margin. The company's international operations accounted for $109.2 billion (equivalent to $114 billion in 2015), or 26.1 percent of sales. Walmart is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000 list, and the largest public corporation when ranked by revenue.
Walmart is governed by a fifteen-member Board of Directors elected annually by shareholders. Robson Walton, the eldest son of founder Sam Walton, serves as Chairman of the Board. Doug McMillon serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, and Mike Duke, former CEO, serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board. Other members of the board include Aída Álvarez, Jim Breyer, M. Michele Burns, James Cash, Roger Corbett, Douglas Daft, David Glass, Marissa Mayer, Gregory B. Penner, Allen Questrom, Arne M. Sorenson, Jim Walton, Christopher J. Williams, and Linda S. Wolf.
Notable former members of the board include Hillary Clinton (1985–1992) and Tom Coughlin (2003–2004), the latter having served as Vice Chairman. Clinton left the board before the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election, and Coughlin left in December 2005 after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Walmart. On August 11, 2006, he was sentenced to 27 months home confinement, five years of probation, and ordered to pay US$411,000 (equivalent to $481 thousand in 2015) in restitution.
After Sam Walton's death in 1992, Don Soderquist, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice Chairman, became known as the "Keeper of the Culture."
In North America, Walmart's primary competitors includes department stores like Kmart, Publix, Target, ShopKo and Meijer, Canada's The Real Canadian Superstore and Giant Tiger, and Mexico's Comercial Mexicana and Soriana. Competitors of Walmart's Sam's Club division are Costco and the smaller BJ's Wholesale Club chain. Walmart's move into the grocery business in the late 1990s also set it against major supermarket chains in both the United States and Canada. Some retail analysts see regional grocery store chain WinCo Foods as serious competition for Walmart. Several smaller retailers, primarily dollar stores, such as Family Dollar and Dollar General, have been able to find a small niche market and compete successfully against Walmart. In 2004, Walmart responded by testing its own dollar store concept, a subsection of some stores called "Pennies-n-Cents."
Walmart also had to face fierce competition in some foreign markets. For example, in Germany it had captured just 2 percent of the German food market following its entry into the market in 1997 and remained "a secondary player" behind Aldi with 19 percent. Walmart continues to do well in the UK, where its Asda subsidiary is the second largest retailer.
In May 2006, after entering the South Korean market in 1998, Walmart withdrew and sold all 16 of its South Korean outlets to Shinsegae, a local retailer, for $882 million. Shinsegae re-branded the Walmarts as E-mart stores.
Walmart struggled to export its brand elsewhere as it rigidly tried to reproduce its model overseas. In China, Walmart hopes to succeed by adapting and doing things preferable to Chinese citizens. For example, it found that Chinese consumers preferred to select their own live fish and seafood; stores began displaying the meat uncovered and installed fish tanks, leading to higher sales.
Walmart customers give low prices as the most important reason for shopping there. The average U.S. Walmart customer's income is below the national average, and analysts estimated that more than one-fifth of them lack a bank account, twice the national rate. A 2006 Walmart report also indicated that Walmart customers are sensitive to higher utility costs and gas prices. A poll indicated that after 2004 US Presidential Election, 76 percent of voters who shopped at Walmart once a week voted for George W. Bush, while only 23 percent supported senator John Kerry. When measured against similar retailers in the U.S., frequent Walmart shoppers were rated the most politically conservative. Thus, as of 2014, the "majority (54 percent) [of] Americans who prefer shopping at Walmart report that they oppose same-sex marriage, while 40 percent are in favor of it."
Due to its prominence in the Bible Belt, Walmart is known for its "tradition of tailoring its service to churchgoing customers". Walmart only carries clean versions of hip-hop audio CDs and in cooperation with The Timothy Plan, places "plastic sheathes over suggestive women's periodicals and banned 'lad mags' such as Maxim". In addition, Walmart also caters to its Christian customer base by selling Christian books and media, "such as VeggieTales videos and The Purpose-Driven Life", which earns the company over $1 billion annually.
In 2006, Walmart took steps to expand its U.S. customer base, announcing a modification in its U.S. stores from a "one-size-fits-all" merchandising strategy to one designed to "reflect each of six demographic groups – African-Americans, the affluent, empty-nesters, Hispanics, suburbanites and rural residents." Around six months later, it unveiled a new slogan: "Saving people money so they can live better lives". This reflects the three main groups into which Walmart categorizes its 200 million customers: "brand aspirationals" (people with low incomes who are obsessed with names like KitchenAid), "price-sensitive affluents" (wealthier shoppers who love deals), and "value-price shoppers" (people who like low prices and cannot afford much more). Walmart has also made steps to appeal to more liberal customers, for example, by rejecting the American Family Association's recommendations and carrying the DVD Brokeback Mountain, a love story between two gay cowboys in Wyoming.
Founder Sam Walton held the belief that the company's contribution to society was the fact that it operated efficiently, thereby lowering the cost of living for customers, and therefore in that sense was a "powerful force for good", despite his refusal to contribute cash to philanthropic causes. Having begun to feel that his wealth attracted people who wanted nothing more than a "handout", he explained that while he believed his family had been fortunate and wished to use his wealth to aid worthy causes like education, they could not be expected to "solve every personal problem that comes to [their] attention". He explained later in his autobiography, "We feel very strongly that Wal-Mart really is not, and should not be, in the charity business," stating "any debit has to be passed along to somebody - either shareholders or our customers." Since Sam Walton's death in 1992, however, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation dramatically increased charitable giving. For example, in 2005, Walmart donated $20 million (equivalent to $24.2 million in 2015) in cash and merchandise for Hurricane Katrina relief. Today, Walmart's charitable donations approach $1 billion each year.
Walmart has been subject to criticism from various groups and individuals, including labor unions, community groups, grassroots organizations, religious organizations, environmental groups, and the company's own customers and employees. They have protested against the company's policies and business practices, including charges of racial and gender discrimination. Other areas of criticism include the company's foreign product sourcing, treatment of suppliers, employee compensation and working conditions, environmental practices, the use of public subsidies, the company's security policies and slavery. Walmart denies doing anything wrong and maintains that low prices are the result of efficiency.
Kenneth Stone, Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, in a paper published in Farm Foundation in 1997, found that some small towns can lose almost half of their retail trade within ten years of a Walmart store opening. He compared the changes to previous competitors small town shops have faced in the past – from the development of the railroads and the Sears Roebuck catalog to shopping malls. He concludes that small towns are more affected by "discount mass merchandiser stores" than larger towns and that shop owners who adapt to the ever changing retail market can "co-exist and even thrive in this type of environment."
One study found Walmart's entry into a new market has a profound impact on its competition. When a Walmart opens in a new market, median sales drop 40 percent at similar high-volume stores, 17 percent at supermarkets and 6 percent at drugstores, according to a June 2009 study by researchers at several universities and led by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. A Loyola University Chicago study suggested that the impact a Walmart store has on a local business is correlated to its distance from that store. The leader of that study admits that this factor is stronger in smaller towns and doesn't apply to more urban areas saying "It'd be so tough to nail down what's up with Wal-Mart". These findings are underscored by another study conducted in 2009 by the National Bureau of Economics that showed "large, negative effects" for competing businesses within five to ten miles of the new opening big box retailer. This same study also found that the local retailers experience virtually no benefit. This particularly contrasts with studies that find that local firms re-invest nearly 63% more of profits in other local businesses compared to chain retailers, as found by the Maine Center of Economic Policy in 2011.
A 2004 paper by two professors at Pennsylvania State University found that U.S. counties with Walmart stores suffered increased poverty compared with counties without Wal-Marts. They hypothesized that this could be due to the displacement of workers from higher-paid jobs in the retailers customers no longer choose to patronize, Wal-Mart providing less local charity than the replaced businesses, or a shrinking pool of local leadership and reduced social capital due to a reduced number of local independent businesses. Dr Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System", said in a lecture at the University of Melbourne on September 18, 2007, that a study in Nebraska looked at two different Wal-Marts, the first of which had just arrived and "was in the process of driving everyone else out of business but, to do that, they cut their prices to the bone, very, very low prices". In the other Wal-Mart, "they had successfully destroyed the local economy, there was a sort of economic crater with Wal-Mart in the middle; and, in that community, the prices were 17 percent higher".
A June 2006 article published by the libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute suggested that Wal-Mart has a positive impact on small business. It argued that while Wal-Mart's low prices caused some existing businesses to close, the chain also created new opportunities for other small business, and so "the process of creative destruction unleashed by Wal-Mart has no statistically significant impact on the overall size of the small business sector in the United States."
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that between 2001 and 2006, Wal-Mart's trade deficit with China alone eliminated nearly 200,000 U.S. jobs. Another study at the University of Missouri found that a new store increases net retail employment in the county by 100 jobs in the short term, half of which disappear over five years as other retail establishments close.
A 2005 story in The Washington Post reported that "Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone boosts the welfare of American shoppers by at least $50 billion per year."(equivalent to $60.4 billion in 2015) A study in 2005 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) measured the effect on consumer welfare and found that the poorest segment of the population benefits the most from the existence of discount retailers.
In 2006, American newspaper columnist George Will named Wal-Mart "the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector in this galaxy" and that "[b]y lowering consumer prices, Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs Wal-Mart creates". In terms of economic effects, Will states that "Wal-Mart and its effects save shoppers more than $200 billion (equivalent to $234 billion in 2015) a year, dwarfing such government programs as food stamps ($28.6 billion (equivalent to $33.5 billion in 2015)) and the earned income tax credit ($34.6 billion (equivalent to $40.5 billion in 2015))".
A 2001 McKinsey Global Institute study of U.S. labor productivity growth between 1995 and 2000 concluded that "Wal-Mart directly and indirectly caused the bulk of the productivity acceleration" in the retail sector. Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics and an adviser to the study, stated that "[b]y far the most important factor in that [growth] is Wal-Mart."
A 2014 story in The Guardian reported that the Wal-Mart Foundation was boosting its efforts to work with U.S. manufacturers. In February, 2014, the Walmart Foundation pledged $10bn to support domestic manufacturers and announced plans to buy $250bn worth of American-made products in the next decade.
Big data analytics
As the largest retailer in the U.S., Walmart collects and analyzes a large amount of consumer data. The big data sets are mined for use in predictive analytics, which allow the company to optimize operations by predicting customer's habits.
In April 2011, Walmart acquired Kosmix to develop software for analyzing real-time data streams. In August 2012, Walmart announced its Polaris search engine.
With over 2.2 million employees worldwide, Walmart has faced a torrent of lawsuits and issues with regards to its workforce. These issues involve low wages, poor working conditions, inadequate health care, as well as issues involving the company's strong anti-union policies. In November 2013 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it had found that in 13 U.S. states Wal-Mart had pressured employees not to engage in strikes on Black Friday, had illegally disciplined workers who had engaged in strikes. Critics point to Walmart's high turnover rate as evidence of an unhappy workforce, although other factors may be involved. Approximately 70% of its employees leave within the first year. Despite this turnover rate, the company is still able to affect unemployment rates. This was found in a study by Oklahoma State University which states, "Walmart is found to have substantially lowered the relative unemployment rates of blacks in those counties where it is present, but to have had only a limited impact on relative incomes after the influences of other socio-economic variables were taken into account."
On February 23, 2015, Walmart announced that it is bumping its minimum wage to $10 an hour by February 2016.
Gender and sexual orientation
In 2007, a gender discrimination lawsuit, Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was filed against Walmart, alleging that female employees were discriminated against in matters regarding pay and promotions. A class action suit was sought, which would have been the nation's largest in history, covering 1.5 million past and current employees of Wal-Mart. On June 20, 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Wal-Mart's favor, stating that the plaintiffs did not have enough in common to constitute a class. The court ruled unanimously that because of the variability of the plaintiffs' circumstances, the class action could not proceed as presented, and furthermore, in a 5–4 decision that it could not proceed as any kind of class action suit. However, several plaintiffs, including Ms. Dukes, still intend to file individual discrimination lawsuits separately.
According to a consultant hired by plaintiffs in a sex discrimination lawsuit, in 2001, Wal-Mart's EEOC filings showed that female employees made up 65 percent of Wal-Mart's hourly paid workforce, but only 33 percent of its management. Just 35 percent of its store managers were women, whereas 57 percent were at comparable retailers. Wal-Mart says comparisons with other retailers are unfair, because it classifies employees differently; if department managers were included in the totals, women would make up 60 percent of the managerial ranks. Others have criticized the lawsuit as without basis in the law and as an abuse of the class action mechanism. In 2007, Wal-Mart was named by the National Association for Female Executives as one of the top 35 companies for Executive Women.
Wal-Mart's rating on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, a measure of how companies treat LGBT employees and customers, has fluctuated widely during the past decade, from a low of 14 percent (2002) to 65 percent (2006). The company was praised for expanding its antidiscrimination policy protecting gay and lesbian employees, as well as for a new definition of "family" that included same-sex partners. However, they have been criticized by the HRC in other areas, such as not renewing its membership in the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
In January 2006, Wal-Mart announced that "diversity efforts include new groups of minority, female and gay employees that meet at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville to advise the company on marketing and internal promotion. There are seven Business Resource Groups: women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Gays and Lesbians, and a disabled group."
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How can you save money if you're not making enough money?
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And the company's Arkansas roots helped sensitize it to the shopping habits of churchgoers. It helps explain why Walmart long carries the kind of Christian books that were once the exclusive province of Christian bookstores. "You don't find those kinds of things in J.C. Penney," Lambert says. But Walmart has been so successful with such material that it's now become a business threat to Christian booksellers.
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Indeed, based in the Bible Belt town of Bentonville, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has a tradition of tailoring its service to churchgoing customers. It sells only the sanitized versions of hip-hop cds bearing warnings of objectionable content. Responding to a campaign by the largest evangelical mutual fund group, The Timothy Plan, to keep Cosmopolitan magazine covers out of view of Wal-Mart customers, the company slapped plastic sheathes over suggestive women's periodicals and banned "lad mags" such as Maxim.
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Wal-Mart Stores has seen the light. The world's biggest retailer has discovered Christian-themed merchandise is one of the fastest-growing categories around. With offerings ranging from best-selling books and videos including The Purpose-Driven Life and Veggie Tales, Wal-Mart's annual sales from Christian-themed merchandise, which is estimated to already exceed $1 billion annually, is growing at a rapid pace. On a company-wide basis, Wal-Mart now offers 550 different Christian music titles and more than 1,200 Christian book titles.
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