The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio has granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit claiming that when items purchased from Wal-Mart or Sam's Club retail locations, or on-line from Walmart.com or Samsclub.com were returned to a location different than the location of purchase, the amount of sales tax refunded or credited was, at times, less than the full amount of sales tax paid at the time the product was purchased. The case is Shaun Brandewie, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (Case Number 1:14-CV-00965). The settlement provides for both injunctive and monetary relief. For injunctive relief, Wal-Mart has agreed to implement an electronic solution to automate the process of calculating the applicable sales tax refund (if any) when an item purchased at a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club retail location in the United States, or on line from Walmart.com or Samsclub.com for delivery within the United States, is returned to a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club retail location that is in a different tax jurisdiction than the jurisdiction in which the item was purchased. For monetary relief, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $5 million to pay for claims, attorneys' fees and expenses, incentive awards to class members and administration of the settlement proceeds. Eligible class members will have the opportunity to apply for and receive a credit in the form of a gift card that is redeemable towards purchases made at Walmart stores, Sam's Club stores, walmart.com, or samsclub.com.When you're Walmart, $5 million is pocket change. That Walmart gets to funnel the money right back into sales is an abomination.
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Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio).
What the Koch brothers really want, what most people in the same league as the Koch brothers always want, are more game tokens. That is what life is to the sociopaths, a vast, nearly exclusive game designed to give meaning and worth to people whose lives are meaningless without the pile of tokens.Now, Doug McMillon in not in that league. McMillon is an employee, not an owner. His wealth is measure in millions, not billions. To Logan (in the video), that's a difference that doesn't make a difference.
Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon reportedly raked in $19.4 million in compensation in 2014. The typical Walmart associate, in contrast, starts at $9 an hour. This means that even with the modest pay increase won by Walmart workers earlier this year, McMillon still makes over 800 times more than this typical employee. Something is terribly wrong here. True, the gap between CEO and worker pay has been an issue for decades. But it came into sharp focus as a result of the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed. Inappropriate compensation packages at financial services firms such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were identified as contributors to the crisis because they were said to encourage excessive risk taking by company executives. It is clear that when CEOs feel like they are playing with Monopoly money, it puts our entire economy in jeopardy. So when the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 was passed to rein in Wall Street greed, it included a provision mandating that the Securities and Exchange Commission require corporations to disclose their CEO-to-worker pay ratio. Seems straightforward enough, right? Unfortunately, Wall Street is much better at doling out lavish compensation packages than disclosing them. The business community is claiming it would cost more than $185,000 and almost 1,000 hours of staff time per company to calculate the CEO-to-worker pay figure. This is nonsense, plain and simple. Employers should already have this information on the books. Dodd-Frank asks companies to do some simple calculations, not put a man on Mars.This is the picture Doug McMillon ought to have on his desk. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Walmart has sent a memo to its suppliers reminding them that they need to comply with labeling laws, "emphasizing that the amount inside a package matches what is printed on the outside," according to a Wall Street Journal story about the July 20 memo. At a glance, the memo — which also reminded suppliers that any price-violation fines that Walmart or Sam's Club sustained would generate a bill to the responsible suppliers — seems perfunctory. But as any Walmart supplier knows, there's no such thing as an innocuous memo from Bentonville. There are two critical pieces of background to this memo. The first is a point made in the Journal piece: "Earlier this year, Wal-Mart’s new U.S. leadership called on suppliers to cut back on marketing spending and plow those savings into lower prices." The second is a long-used tactic by Walmart and the warehouse clubs (its own Sam's Club plus competitors Costco and BJ's) to thwart mobile price-comparison tools by forcing suppliers to create differently sized packages. With the exception of a handful of the largest suppliers (Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Unilever, Pepsi, Kraft, Kimberly-Clark, etc.), most Walmart suppliers are just a few margin points away from losing money in their deals. They need the massive Walmart volume---and the other deals that happen because they are also distributed by Walmart---to avoid financial disaster. Walmart's buyers are legendarily good at paying as little as possible. Couple that with those differently sized---and often uniquely sized---packages, and the temptation to cut back on product delivered is understandable.Schuman concludes:
Let's look again at Walmart's suggestion to suppliers that they should cut back on marketing spending. How very generous of Walmart. Given that almost all suppliers sell at tons of outlets beyond Walmart, that marketing helps revenue far beyond Walmart. Indeed, for smaller suppliers, a lack of marketing would accomplish little beyond making those suppliers even more indebted to---and under the influence of---Walmart, which those suppliers would rely on for whatever marketing and store signage they wanted to offer. Walmart's memos tell suppliers "don't cheat." Walmart's pricing tells suppliers they have to — or they can cut costs to the point where Walmart becomes close to a loss-leader. It's like the old, not-so-funny supplier joke: "Good and bad news, Phil. The good news: Walmart just called and said that they're willing to carry our product line. The bad news: We agreed."Walmart never takes an action simply to be helpful. There is always an agenda. Discovering what that agenda may be, however, is not always easy. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
According to data from e-commerce intelligence firm Profitero, Jet.com's prices were on average 8 percent lower than Amazon's and 6 percent below Wal-Mart's. Profitero analyzed 16,000 identical items across seven categories at the three retailers in its study last week. Lore told CNBC that Profitero's analysis was based on the "starting price," and that consumer savings will be even greater over time—perhaps as much as 10 to 15 percent less. "As you shop in a smarter way and build your basket, the marginal cost to ship additional product comes down so you see that in real time," he said. "The prices are coming down."We all know how people love those falling prices, and they don't care who gets hurt in the bargain. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
A year after a 22-year-old black man was killed by a white police officer while carrying an air rifle in an Ohio Wal-Mart, federal officials' review of the case remains unfinished as his relatives plan an anniversary vigil — and the region grapples with the aftermath of a different deadly police shooting. John Crawford III was shot Aug. 5 in suburban Dayton after a 911 caller reported seeing someone at the store waving a gun. A local grand jury concluded the shooting was justified, but his family contends he was shot without a chance to respond to police. The case and others that followed — including the deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown days later in Ferguson, Missouri, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in November — have fueled national dialogue about police use of force, especially by white officers against blacks. Attention again turned to southwest Ohio over the past few days as a now-fired University of Cincinnati policeman who shot a driver during a traffic stop pleaded not guilty to murder. "It does not appear that anything has changed for the better in this past year — that we're still having a lot of police-involved shootings of young black men," said Michael Wright, an attorney for Crawford's family. They want to see charges filed in Crawford's case and plan to voice that call as they mark the anniversary with a rally and prayer vigil Wednesday at Dayton's courthouse square. The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office responsible for the Dayton area are reviewing what happened, said Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office. She said a "review of the facts and circumstances" is continuing but she couldn't provide a timeline for its completion.What might Walmart have done? What might Walmart do? This would be a good start, but why stop at New York? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Wal-Mart plans an extensive remodel at its recently closed supercenter before it reopens, according to permits recently filed with the city of Tulsa. Wal-Mart initially cited plumbing problems as its reason for closing the store at Admiral Place and Memorial Drive in April. The permits, filed July 15, indicate the store is set to get a remodeled grocery, pharmacy, customer service center, nail salon, restrooms and auto center, along with new signs, repaired front doors and demolition, plumbing and electrical work.Why did Walmart need three months to file permits? That is still a good question. I am more prone to consider internal incompetence and idiocy than I am secret tunnels. All five stores are scheduled to be reopened before Black Friday 2015. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Clearly, one of these companies is more lucrative than the other. Amazon is still not profitable. He company last [sic] $188 million dollars over the last 12 months. While Amazon is not profitable on a GAAP basis, there is more to the story here than meets the eye---which will be discussed a little later on in this article. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, is extremely profitable. Wal-Mart made enough money over the last 12 months to buy the entire Whole Foods company (based on its $14.6 billion market cap). I’m not saying Wal-Mart should buy Whole Foods – they are very, very different businesses. This example just shows the massive earnings power of Wal-Mart. When given the choice between a highly profitable company and an unprofitable company, I would much rather choose the one that makes money over the one that does not. Businesses are in business primarily to make money. Wal-Mart is a money making machine. Amazon is not.In the corporate world we live in, making money is not the most important consideration, making money is the only consideration. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Northwest Arkansas recruiting firm Cameron Smith & Associates is preparing its employees for "a surge of phone calls, emails and resumes" related to layoffs at the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. home office in Bentonville. Wal-Mart management, including CEO Doug McMillon, has publicly discussed being too bureaucratic at the headquarters level, and the company added $1 billion for employee wages and training initiatives to its budget this year with more raises coming in February. Cameron Smith & Associates employees, in an internal memo dated Monday, were given a plan of action in the event there are layoffs at Wal-Mart's Bentonville hub. "Please remember, these people are our neighbors and friends. You have a skill that will be very much in need when this goes down. You are experts in the job market and you know what it takes to get hired. This is a time for us to step up and do what we can to help," according to the memo obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Wal-Mart spokesman Deisha Barnett said the company is evaluating "our management structure as every high-performing company would. Speculating any further would be premature." As many as 1,000 employees could be laid off at the home office, according to Cameron Smith of Cameron Smith & Associates, which specializes in working with Wal-Mart vendors and suppliers. Smith said he sent the memo to his employees on the basis of conversations with people "inside Wal-Mart" and as a means of ensuring his employees are better prepared for assisting laid-off workers than they were in 2009 when as many as 800 Wal-Mart headquarters employees were let go. Wal-Mart employs more than 20,000 at its Bentonville headquarters.I have to wonder how many of the 1,000 jobs under the microscope were filled with re-hires from the 800 put on street following the Republican-Wall Street Great Recession of 2008. In other Walmart news today: Flathead County offers to buy old Wal-Mart building for jail Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
According to solid waste specialist Jordan Figueiredo and Stefanie Sacks, author of What the Fork Are You Eating?, French supermarket Intermarche launched an "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables Campaign" last year to sell imperfect produce at a slight discount, while Loblaw Companies -- Canada's largest food and pharmacy retailer -- did the same here in North America. Other companies in Europe, Australia, and Canada are following suit, offering the "uglies" at an average of 30% off. Undoubtedly, there is resistance to selling produce that does not meet certain standards. Consumers have become so accustomed to seeing only row after row of perfect produce on shelves. Spoilage can also be costly for retailers. At Wal-Mart, some 56% of its $130.7 billion in fiscal 2015 net sales came from groceries, while perishables accounted for two-thirds of the $14.2 billion in total sales at Whole Foods last year. Cutting down waste remains an imperative for both. But a discount for imperfection would go a long way toward encouraging many people to overlook blemishes, and both companies have strong incentives to offer even more products at lower prices.Just how much of a discount would Americans need to buy ugly fruit? In other Walmart headlines: Wal-Mart Warns Its Suppliers Over Labeling Laws. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
This move did not surprise Jason Long and retail experts who agreed that all retailers have to constantly re-valuate operations in this evolving sector. “I don’t think Wal-Mart loses here. Few competitors are open overnight now. Wal-Mart stores shaving hours probably weren’t justifying their overnight sales to begin with. Taking a few extra hours to restock shelves, etc. combined with the labor savings will probably be a net positive,” said Long, CEO of Shift Marketing Group. He said it also could signal to those Walmart stores not affected that they need to ramp up sales or potentially see their hours cut as well. The new management inside Walmart U.S. has made it clear that they intend to clean up stores, improve customer service and in-stocks and reallocate the store labor as its needed. Nick said most of the overnight workers will be retained for stocking and prepping the store for daytime hours. He said overnight cashiers will be offered other positions, those not accepting other positions will be offered severance if they are full-time and have worked there for at least one year. Retail expert Max Goldberg said that Wal-Mart should do what's best for its bottom line even if that means discontinuing some 24-hour openings. “Some shoppers will be inconvenienced and there will be complaints, but this should not be a large factor in the company's decision,” Goldberg noted on a RetailWire discussion on this topic. Retail consultant David Livingston said any supercenter grossing under $60 million per year is likely a prime candidate for closing overnight. He doubts this has little to do with re-stocking shelves and is more likely an effort to rein in costs. He said stores in areas where there is a propensity for violent crime or theft is also a good reason to close in the overnight hours.Goldberg is perhaps nearly the most honest analyst I've come across of late. I say nearly only because he used the word should when he ought to have written must. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
And dildos. Really, a staggering number of dildos. At breaks, some of my coworkers complain that they have to handle so many dildos.Just as pornography is the elephant on the Internet, are sex toys what drives Amazon? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
When markets closed on Friday, Amazon had a market cap of $246.54 billion versus Wal-Mart's $230.53 billion cap. Although Wal-Mart's overall sales are much bigger than Amazon's, this unprecedented value swap underscores the fact that the 53-year-old retailer is getting smoked when it comes to ecommerce. In 2014, Wal-Mart's online sales were $12.2 billion compared to Amazon's $89 billion. Even though Amazon has about one-twentieth of Wal-Mart's total scale, its online business is growing faster overall.Walmart is chasing Amazon on the technology front, but can technology be sufficient for Amazon to triumph?
Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told Business Insider that she expects Wal-Mart will eventually achieve an online shopping experience that's as good as Amazon's, even if it never catches up in dollars spent online. Although it's not uncommon for brick-and-mortar retailers to get 20% of their revenue from online these days, she wouldn't bet on Wal-Mart reaching that level. "I don't think Wal-Mart will hit that because its core customer isn't the most wired or tech savvy shopper out there," she said via email. "But to expect 10% I think would be reasonable."The digital divide may actually save Walmart. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
It took four years, but Wal-Mart has finally fully gobbled up Chinese e-commerce company Yihaodian. The world’s largest retailer on Thursday said it acquired the final outstanding shares of Yihaodian, taking full ownership of the company after an initial investment began back in 2011. Wal-Mart WMT -1.28% had previously boosted its stake in the company in 2012, when it took a 51% majority control position. Terms of the latest acquisition weren’t disclosed. “Yihaodian has excelled as one of China’s top e-commerce businesses,” said Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Global eCommerce. He said the investment is part of Wal-Mart’s “long-term commitment to grow in China.” With full ownership of Yihaodian, Wal-Mart plans to invest in both accelerating e-commerce and also an easier experience for customers to shop online, via mobile and in brick and mortar stores. Yihaodian, which was founded in 2008, will continue to operate under its existing name. Wal-Mart touted the Chinese company’s swelling business: it now stocks 8 million product items and serves 100 million registered customers. Those figures are up from 50,000 and 4 million, respectively, back in 2010.What better way to source cheap plastic crap from China, and potentially grab back the retail crown from Amazon, than to actually own an online retailer awash in CPCFC? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
The cavernous store is painstakingly familiar, from the diminutive blue-vested woman greeting shoppers to the pictures of the company's founder outside the administrative offices. Wal-Mart has kept many things the same as it spreads into India, one of the last major global frontiers for the behemoth Bentonville, Ark., company. But its customers are themselves owners of businesses, including the mom-and-pop traditional groceries that sell most of India's food. Two years after scrapping plans to open retail outlets across the world's second-biggest consumer market, Wal-Mart is recommitting to India as a wholesaler. In August, Wal-Mart will open its first new Best Price Modern Wholesale store in India since 2012 as part of a plan to expand from 20 stores to 70 within five years, company executives say. Needing to boost revenue overseas to offset flagging U.S. growth, Wal-Mart is one of the few international retail chains to brave the challenges of operating in India, a tantalizing market with 1.2 billion consumers but onerous limitations on foreign investment. Even as it liberalized its economy in the last three decades, India has kept tight control over its food and grocery sector, which accounts for more than one-third of consumer spending. Foreign companies are barred from opening supermarkets, shielding domestic companies and small businesses from competition, and can own at most a 51% stake in local chains. But with no restrictions on foreign ownership of wholesale stores, Wal-Mart, which has long fought the charge that its superstores harm small businesses in America, has fashioned itself a partner to India's traditional mom-and-pop grocers. The ubiquitous neighborhood shops known as kiranas sell 98% of the country's groceries, according to Euromonitor International, a consulting group.We've written much about Walmart and India before. I think the Indian people have much more sense, and longer memories, than many others that Walmart has trodden into the ground. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.Walmart, Wal-Mart
The retail king has lost its crown. Amazon.com’s market value whizzed past that of Walmart in after-hours trading Thursday, as investors increased their bets that the future of the US retail sector will be dominated by Jeff Bezos’ online behemoth. There’s no guarantee Amazon’s market value will stay above that of Walmart. During the thinly traded after-hours session, Amazon’s stock price leapt by over 14% to more than $550 a share after the company reported strong quarterly earnings results. That added more than $30 billion to Amazon’s market value, pushing it above $250 billion. (Walmart’s market value ended the day’s trading a bit above $230 billion, with little movement in the after-hours trading session.) Here’s a look at the long saga of Amazon and Walmart, taking today’s share surge into account.What makes this particularly troubling is that Amazon is invisible. A few clicks on your computer and the package is delivered to your doorstep. The odds that anyone reading this, hell anyone in the universe, has actually engaged in a retail transaction with an Amazon employee, face-to-face, are astronomical. Amazon can, and does, get away with egregious behavior that would have the tumbrels rolling if Walmart followed suit. I can't immediately find how long Barbara Ehrenreich lasted at Walmart, but I expect her time might have been much, much shorter at Amazon. Do I have to change the name of the blog now?