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Entries in Walmart (42)

Friday
Oct042013

Price War: Walmart Is Latest to Drop Price of iPhone 5c

Apple, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- The iPhone 5c price drop war is on. After Best Buy announced Thursday that it was planning to offer Apple's iPhone 5c for $50 with a two-year contract -- nearly half of Apple's $99 price -- Walmart has announced that it will offer the phone for $45.

"This is what we do -- low prices is what we do," Sarah Spencer McKinney, director of corporate communications for Walmart, told ABC News. "As a price leader, we are always looking for ways to surprise our customers with low prices and disrupt the competition."

McKinney told ABC News to expect the price to remain at $45 throughout the holiday season. The deal began on Friday and is only available to customers in stores who sign a two-year contract on the handset.

While both Walmart and Best Buy maintain that this is just a deal to drive attention to the iPhone 5c, the price drop comes as the higher-end iPhone 5s has been sold out at various stores. The 5s has a faster processor, better camera and a new fingerprint reader embedded in the home button.

Apple declined to comment on the Best Buy or Walmart deals or on the specific sales numbers of the iPhone 5c.

"I think the 5c has gotten overshadowed and, given that the 5s isn't available everywhere, this is a way to get people excited about the latest and greatest Apple product," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, told ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul132013

Twinkies Return to Store Shelves Early at Wal-Mart

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Hostess Brands LLC has begun to return Twinkies to some store shelves three days ahead of the announced national roll-out.

Twinkies are already available at many Wal-Mart stores, despite previous announcements targeting the re-release of the Twinkie for Monday. The confection was available in 1,600 of Wal-Mart's 4,000 stores by Friday night and will be available in approximately 3,000 stores by Sunday, says the New York Daily News. The new Twinkie's shelf life is said to be 45 days. That's almost three weeks longer than the 26 days the former Twinkie was supposed to stay fresh.

Hostess Brands, based in Kansas City, Mo. had stopped operations at the last of its 11 factories in November after failing to reach an agreement with its second biggest union, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union. The company filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 16. The new owners of Hostess have cut the number of plants to four and the products will be sold through convenience and grocery stores only. Some 600 Hostess thrift stores have been closed permanently.

Other differences for the new product include how the goods will be distributed. Company spokeswoman Hannah Arnold said "90 percent of the product will still be delivered fresh," but some will be delivered frozen.

"A select number of customers -- representing only about 10 percent of Hostess' distribution -- have explicitly requested to receive frozen product," Arnold said. "This allows the retailer to date the product for freshness, provides flexibility in filling their shelves and has no impact on the quality or taste of the products. The decision is up to the customer. The only stores that will receive frozen product are those that request it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar092013

Ariz. Couple Sues Walmart over Kids’ Bath Photos

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- In 2008, Lisa and Anthony “A.J.” Demaree took their three young daughters on a trip to San Diego. They returned home to Arizona and brought photos of their then 5, 4 and 1 1/2 year old daughters to a local Walmart in Peoria to be developed.

That should have been that, except instead of receiving 144 happy familial memories, Walmart employees reported the Demarees to the Peoria Police Department on the suspicion that they had taken pornographic images of their children. The police, in turn, called in the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency, and the couple lost custody of their daughters for over a month.

They were shocked. “Some of the photos are bath time photos,” Lisa Demaree told ABC News at the time, “but there are a few after the bath. Three of the girls are naked, lying on a towel with their arms around each other, and we thought it was so cute.”

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the photographs were not, in fact, pornographic, and a medical exam revealed no signs of sexual abuse. The girls were returned to their parents.

But the damage had been done: The couple’s named went on a central registry of sex offenders, and “We’ve missed a year of our children’s lives as far as memories go,” Demaree told ABC News.

In 2009, the couple sued the city of Peoria and the State Attorney General’s office for defamation. They also sued Walmart for failing to tell them that they had an “unsuitable print policy” and could turn over photos to law enforcement without the customer’s knowledge.

A federal judge in Phoenix sided with Walmart, ruling that employees in Arizona cannot be held liable for reporting suspected child pornography. The Demarees appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on March 6 the court held a hearing before three judges.

“The photos involved were simple childhood nudity,” the family’s lawyer, Richard Treon, told ABC News. He argued that Walmart committed fraud on its customers by not disclosing that employees would look at their photographs. Nor did customers know that employees could take photos they found offensive to their boss, who could then call the police.

Walmart did not respond to an interview request from ABC News. But, according to Courthouse News the company’s lawyer, Lawrence Kasten, argued that under Arizona statute employees who report child abuse without malice are immune from prosecution. He added that there was no indication of malice in this case.

“I fear that what may happen after this case is [that the] employee will sit there and say, boy, if I turn these over my employer is going to spend millions of dollars in legal fees, and I’m going to get hauled in front of a deposition for eight hours, [so] maybe I’ll just stick them back in the envelope and not worry about them,” he said. “Immunity is supposed to prevent exactly that from happening.”

It’s unknown when the appeals court will rule on the case against the city and Walmart.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb152013

Walmart Blames Tax Increases for Poor Sales

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart is having the worst start to a sales month in seven years and top executives are blaming new payroll taxes for having a bad impact on their business, according to internal memos leaked to Bloomberg news.  They say higher taxes, mean less money for shoppers to spend.
 
Walmart shares fell $1.52, or 2.1 percent, to $69.30 on Friday. According to the Wall Street Journal, the retail giant's stock slid by as much as 3.8 percent after Bloomberg reported Friday afternoon that Walmart's vice president of finance and logistics, Jerry Murray, said this month's sales have been a "total disaster."

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February [month-to-date] sales are a total disaster,” Murray wrote in an email to other Walmart executives. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

Many economists have been warning that new tax increases -- specifically the payroll tax -- will hurt growth by taking away spending money from consumers.  This tax has the biggest effect on lower income consumers.
 
Bill Martin of Shoppertrak, a firm that counts retail traffic, agrees that may be true, and that people "may be trying to find their willingness to go out and spend."  Still, he adds that Jerry Murray may be over-reacting.

"You know there's no panic even if we are soft by a percentage point or two," Martin says.

According to the Walmart emails, delayed tax refunds leaving shoppers with less cash in February could also be blamed for the poor sales. But Shoppertrak expects pre-Easter spending to pick-up that will continue to help grow the economy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan162013

Veterans Group: Walmart's Veterans Initiative Is Step in 'Right Direction'

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart's promise to hire any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty seems like a noble one, but how good is the pay?

In the U.S., the average wage for a full-time hourly Walmart associate is $12.57, according to the company.  That's $26,108 a year at 40 hours a week, or just above the federal poverty level of $23,050 for a family of four.

The median salary for W-1 enlisted military personnel with eight years of experience is $45,528, which is also the "most stressful job for 2013," according to CareerCast.com.

The basic pay for E-1 active duty soldiers with less than two years of experience starts at around $18,194.  That may be lower in the first four months of service, the Army says on its website, but that does not include the free housing, health benefits, or food allowance also offered.

Walmart said beginning Memorial Day for the veterans, most of the jobs offered will be in Walmart stores and clubs while others will be in distribution centers and its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Michael Dakduk, executive director at Student Veterans of America, said initiatives to hire veterans are "absolutely critical given the unemployment rate of military veterans."

"It's commendable, but I would like to see veterans employed and really looking towards long-term success," Dakduk said.  "That's why education is absolutely critical.  It's not just about being employed but it's about not being underemployed."

Walmart projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans during the next five years.  As the biggest private employer in the U.S., the company has 1.4 million U.S. associates working in 4,601 stores and clubs in the U.S.

"We believe Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more," said Paul Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, in a statement.  "I can think of no better group to lead in revitalizing our economy than those who have served in uniform.  Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom.  When they return, it must be to a land of possibility."

The company's announcement came alongside news that it will boost spending on products sourced in the U.S. by $50 billion over a decade.

Simon said he wants company associates "to find career opportunities they want with Walmart."

About 75 percent of store managers started as store associates, according to Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart.

The average pay for store managers is $50,000 to $170,000 a year, said Hargrove.  The highest-paid store manager last year made $250,000.

"When you're talking about our store associates and rising through the ranks every year, we promote about 170,000 people to jobs with more responsibilities and higher pay," Hargrove said.

The company also said its employee turnover rate in the U.S. is less than the industry trade average: 37.2 percent versus 43.6 percent, respectively.

Dakduk said he hopes corporate America follows Walmart's examples with more high-profile initiatives.

"If someone's unemployed, that's an issue," Dakduk said.  "There are a lot of homeless veterans and a lot of veterans that are not employed.  It's certainly a step in the right direction, and I think that's important to acknowledge."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan152013

Walmart to Roll Out Program to Hire More than 100K Vets

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart announced on Tuesday that it is rolling out a program this year to hire almost any veteran who wants a job, marking one of the biggest job commitments ever made by a company.

The effort is set to begin on Memorial Day.  The company is offering a job to any veteran who received an honorable discharge within a year of applying for a position.

“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make,” Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon said in a statement.  “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure.  They’re quick learners and team players.  They are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service.  There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.”

Walmart expects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years.

“We believe Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more,” Simon said.  “I can think of no better group to lead in revitalizing our economy than those who have served in uniform.  Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom.  When they return, it must be to a land of possibility.”

Walmart reached out to first lady Michelle Obama, who was "very excited" about the company's commitment.

“This is exactly the kind of act we hoped would be possible when we started Joining Forces -- a concrete example of our nation's love and support that our troops, veterans, and their families can feel in their lives every day,” said Mrs. Obama.  “As our wars come to an end and our troops continue to come home, it's more important than ever that all of us -- not just government, but our businesses and nonprofits as well -- do our part to serve those who have served us so bravely."

Walmart said the White House is going to convene with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and major American employers in the next several weeks to encourage other businesses to make similar commitments.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec162012

Walmart Slashes Prices on Apple iPhone 5 and iPad

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK)-- If you’ve been waiting for the iPhone 5 or an iPad with a Retina Display to drop in price, you can now do a little dance. Walmart has started to carry the iPhone 5 and third-generation iPad at a steep discount, at least for Apple products.

While Apple rarely offers its newest products for less than the retail price, for the next 30 days at Walmart stores, the 16GB iPhone 5 will cost $127, down from the usual $199. The 16GB iPhone 4S, which is usually $89.97 at Walmart, has also been discounted to $47. Both versions of the phone will require a two-year cellular contract with either Sprint, Verizon or AT&T.

In addition, Walmart has also slashed the price on the third-generation iPad. The 16 GB iPad with Retina Display will start at $399. Apple offers the iPad 2, which doesn’t have a Retina Display and a slower processor, for the same price on its website. Additionally, at Walmart, starting today, Dec. 17 this iPad will come with a $30 iTunes card. There are no discounts on the fourth-generation iPad, which has a faster A6X processor and new Lighting charging port, or the new iPad Mini.

The offer is only available in Walmart stores and there are likely to be shortages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec142012

Report: Walmart, Kroger Among Bidders for Hostess Brands

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Who's looking to snatch up Hostess Brands following the company's plans to liquidate?  According to Bloomberg, Walmart and Kroger are among the two dozen bidders interested in the maker of Twinkies, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports the two companies, along with Grupo Bimbo and Alpha Baking, have placed bids on Hostess' assets.  

The source says some of the bids are for all of the assets, while others are just for the cakes or breads businesses.  Some bidders, meanwhile, are only seeking to acquire Hostess' plants.

Should the liquidation sale go through, it could generate $1 billion for Hostess' creditors.

The company decided to move forward with its liquidation plans last month after it failed to reach a new labor agreement with its bakery workers.

The bakers union went on strike on Nov. 9, when the company imposed a contract that would cut workers' wages by 8 percent.  The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) said the contract would also cut benefits by 27 to 32 percent.

Days later, Hostess announced it would be liquidating the entire company because not enough striking employees had returned to work by a deadline the company had set.

"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn said in a statement on Nov. 16.  "Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders."

Hostess, which is privately owned by two hedge funds, has struggled in recent years with two bankruptcy filings.

A federal judge had pushed Hostess and its workers to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator to avoid liquidation, but when that failed, the company moved forward with its plans to wind down operations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec142012

Walmart Worker Says She Was Fired for Praying with Customer

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A former pharmacist at a Walmart in California said she was fired by the retail giant because of her Christian beliefs.  Now, she is suing for religious discrimination, saying the store claimed to have caught her praying with a customer on camera, and cited that as the reason for termination.

In January 2006, Anhue Doan of Bakersfield, Calif., about 125 miles northeast of Santa Barbara, became a retail pharmacist at a Walmart store in her city.

Darren Harris, the attorney representing Doan from the law firm Spray, Gould & Bowers LLP, said she does not deny praying with customers when they requested to do so.

"She does however deny that she was praying when she was allegedly caught on video," he told ABC News.  "She was simply touching a patient and talking with her, which Walmart interpreted as praying with her."

Her termination letter does not mention praying and instead cites "misconduct," which Doan believes was in reference to allegedly praying with patients, according to Harris.

Walmart declined to comment about the surveillance tape or discuss the reasons for termination.

Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart, said the company "has a zero tolerance policy with respect to harassment or discrimination, including religious discrimination."

"We make reasonable accommodations for religious reasons," he said in a statement.  "We have not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit.  We will thoroughly investigate the allegations that are being raised once we receive the complaint."

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Ark., is the largest employer in the U.S. with over 4,500 retail facilities and 1.4 million employees in the U.S. alone.

It was in June 2011, when Doan, now 59, was "written up specifically for stating that she would pray for customers and stating to customers, 'be healed'," according to her complaint.  Her employer said she "could no longer pray for customers, and stated that she would be terminated if she continued doing so," according to the lawsuit she filed in a California Superior Court in Kern County.

Her attorney believes Doan was labeled as a "troublemaker" after she sent an email to her managers noting "several compliance issues with other employees," such as bringing drinks into the pharmacy, pharmacists not following Drug Enforcement Administration requirements for controlled substances, using cellphones in the pharmacy and other prohibited actions.

Doan also claims that she believes Walmart assigned her duties "to other workers who were not religious," which she said constitutes illegal discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that when her employer "learned" of her religion, her supervisors "surreptitiously resolved to replace [her] and terminate her employment, rather than afford her reasonable accommodations to which she was entitled under the law."

In Dec. 2011, Doan says, her district manager brought her into his office and showed her a surveillance tape without sound that showed Doan "touching a customer's hand, as well as the customer crying."  Doan recalls that he then told her the video showed that she "was praying and that they were going to terminate her," despite lacking "good cause" to do so.  She was fired on Dec. 8.

Harris said his client had hoped to work for Walmart until she retired.  She was just shy of her six-year anniversary and had earned over $170,000 plus benefits last year, he said. She is currently unemployed despite "diligent efforts" to find comparable employment, according to Harris and the complaint.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

Labor Board Calls Walmart Strike Decision 'Complex'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has not yet decided whether to stop planned Black Friday protests in front of Walmart stores, calling the allegations that a union is conducting illegal picketing "complex."

Walmart, the largest employer in the country with 4,000 U.S. locations, had requested last Friday that the NLRB issue an injunction against planned protests outside Walmart stores that could take place on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  But the NLRB Office of General Counsel said it will likely not be able to issue a decision before Thursday about the protests.

Walmart does not recognize an official workers' union and alleges that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is organizing illegal picketing at its stores.

Labor advocates critical of Walmart say it does not pay workers enough and many part-time workers are unable to work more hours and earn additional income.

On Tuesday evening, the NLRB said it cannot issue a decision yet because the issue is "complex."  Since Monday, the labor board has investigated Walmart's allegations by speaking to the union, interviewing witnesses and sifting through documents provided by Walmart.

"The legal issues -- including questions about what constitutes picketing and whether the activity was aimed at gaining recognition for the union -- are complex," the labor board said.  "Also, there are many distinct factual circumstances at stores across the country to consider."

The NLRB said it expects to complete its investigation by Wednesday.

Since October, a group supported by the UFCW, Our Walmart, has threatened to protest against Walmart's 8 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving Day, and what the group says are unfair labor conditions.  The group has said protests could take place at 1,000 locations.

Based in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart employs 1.3 million associates, and the company says only a small minority of workers, less than 0.0003 percent, are expected to protest on Black Friday.

"In fact, many of our associates have urged us to do something about the UFCW's latest round of publicity stunts because they don't think it's right that a few associates that are being coerced by the UFCW are being portrayed by the media as representative of what it's like to work at Walmart," Walmart national media relations director Kory Lundberg said in a statement.

Lundberg said "most of the numbers of people the UFCW claims at their events aren't even Walmart workers.  They are union representatives and other union members."

Colby Harris, an Our Walmart member from Lancaster, Texas, fired back.

"Walmart is doing everything in its power to attempt to silence our voice.  But nothing -- not even this baseless unfair labor practice charge -- will stop us from speaking out," he said.

Walmart said more than one million associates will be working through the holiday weekend.

In defense of its labor practices, the company said it has 250,000 associates that have worked for the company for more than 10 years and it promoted 165,000 hourly associates last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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