The Wal-Mart era over? | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Wal-Mart era over?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 3, 2007 at 8:22 AM

Page One, Wall Street Journal, has a watershed-style headline -- "Wal-Mart Era Wanes Amid Big Shifts in Retail." I'm not ready to write off the Bentonville behemoth, but the smug Arkansas assumptions about the inevitablity of Wal-Mart success and regular stock price doubling should already have been put to rest by six years or so of moribund stock performance.

The Wal-Mart Era, the retailer's time of overwhelming business and social influence in America, is drawing to a close.

Using a combination of low prices and relentless expansion, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. emerged from rural Arkansas in the 1970s to reshape the world's largest economy. Its co-founder, Sam Walton, taught Americans to demand ever-lower prices and instructed businesses on running a lean company. His company helped boost America's overall productivity, lowered the inflation rate, and strengthened the buying power for millions of people. Over time, it also accelerated the drive to manufacture products in Asia, drove countless small shops out of business, and sped the decline of Main Street. Those changes are permanent.

Today, though, Wal-Mart's influence over the retail universe is slipping. In fact, the industry's titan is scrambling to keep up with swifter rivals that are redefining the business all around it. It can still disrupt prices, as it did last year by cutting some generic prescriptions to $4. But success is no longer guaranteed.

Rival retailers lured Americans away from Wal-Mart's low-price promise by offering greater convenience, more selection, higher quality, or better service. Amid the country's growing affluence, Wal-Mart has struggled to overhaul its down-market, politically incorrect image while other discounters pitched themselves as more upscale and more palatable alternatives. The Internet has changed shoppers' preferences and eroded the commanding influence Wal-Mart had over its suppliers.

As a result, American shoppers are increasingly looking for qualities that Wal-Mart has trouble providing.

This is a fascinating story about the ways competitors have cut into Wal-Mart, in part with convenience. Even Kroger has successfully battled the Wal-Mart supercenter explosion with upscale and ready-to-eat products.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Marking 60 years since the school crisis. Praise for the Nine and calls to action.

    The 60th anniversary of desegregation of Little Rock Central High School was lavishly recalled this morning with a ceremony featuring the eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine, former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Mayor Mark Stodola and many other speakers.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Security tightens at Little Rock airport

    Security procedures will tighten at Clinton National Airport this week as the Transportation Security Administration requires separate screening of all electronic devices larger than a cell phone.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Central High at 60: Seize the day mayor. Stand up for LR schools.

    The conversion of a national debate on race is an apt commentary for the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock school crisis and the city's effort to sell it as an occasion to laud progress. Progress would be someone talking about the elephant in the room — the white establishment's takeover of the majority black Little Rock School District.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation