Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Walmart wants stores to improve fresh grocery performance

According to a New York Times story last week, Walmart execs issued a memo to store managers across the country urging them to improve performance on chilled items in its dairy, meat and produce departments in order to improve sluggish sales.

Walmart has about 20 percent of the nation's dry grocery business, but only 15 percent of the fresh grocery business, indicating that it is less competitive in that area.

The memo, leaked by an unhappy store manager, aims to ensure that aging meat and baked goods are priced appropriately so they sell before their expiration dates. The memo also tells stores to remove expired dairy products and eggs, and to execute the "Would I buy it?" mentality.

Some analysts say the problem isn't the store managers themselves, but the lack of employees to do the work needed.

"The fact that they don't do some of these things every day, every shift, shows what a complete breakdown Walmart has in staffing and training," said Retail Consultant Burt P. Flickenger III.

Although Walmart has 1.3 million American workers, a report last month issued by Wolfe Research claims that they would have 200,000 more workers if employee growth kept up with square footage growth.

Senior executives have told analysts that they recognize the problems and are allocating additional hours for workers to spend time in the deli, bakery, overnight stocking and at cash registers. However, an assistant store manager told The Times that the company was refusing to let him add more employee hours to complete these daily tasks. As a result, he said his store has been forced to throw out more milk, eggs and produce than in previous years.

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