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Entries in Walmart (42)

Wednesday
Oct102012

Walmart, Amazon Roll Out Same-Day Delivery for Online Orders

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just in time for the holiday shopping season, two retailing giants are gearing up for same-day package delivery for goods purchased online.

Walmart to Go is being test marketed in several cities across the country.  The service was first rolled out in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.’s Virginia suburbs.  Now, it’s set to expand to Minneapolis and then to parts of northern California.

Walmart’s move comes weeks after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said his company is aiming for same-day delivery in major metropolitan regions.  The moves are part of a growing rivalry between Walmart, the biggest brick and mortar retailer, and Amazon, the number one online firm.

Walmart to Go will cost $10 per shipment regardless of the size of the order, and has to be ordered before noon for delivery from a local store on the same day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Walmart, Amex Roll Out New Prepaid Card

Bluebird by American Express and Walmart(NEW YORK) -- Walmart and American Express announced Monday morning that they would make available a refillable prepaid card for consumers tired of banking fees.

The company said the card is an “alternative to debit and checking accounts” and will be available next week online or in more than 4,000 Walmart stores. There is no fee to set up the card online at Bluebird.com but there is a $5 fee for an account set up kit at Walmart stores with any amount between $1 and $500 for immediate use.

Gerri Detweiler, credit card expert from Credit.com, said the card combines the appeal of the American Express brand, “which is generally seen as an upscale card,” and the wide distribution available through Walmart.

“Prepaid cards have been trying to establish themselves as a smart alternative to increasingly expensive bank accounts and this program may help them do that,” Detweiler said.

Banks’ overdraft fee revenue increased 2.1 percent to $31.5 billion in the last fiscal year, according to financial data firm Moebs Services. The median overdraft fee rose to $29 from $28 the prior year.

Bluebird does not require a credit check but only adults 18 and older can sign up for a card.

There are no monthly or annual fees. There is, however, a $2 fee for a deposit from a debit card. Users can also access money through 22,000 MoneyPass ATMs across the country for free; otherwise,  there is a $2 fee for using other network ATMs; third-party network fees may apply.

Detweiler said the fees on this card are “very low,” which will be appealing for those tired of bank overdraft fees, online shopping or someone who wants to better manage their budget.

It is likely Walmart and American Express would make revenue from swipe fees if a consumer uses the card at a retailer, she said.

The card’s benefits include fraud protection in case it is lost or stolen in which case the card can be replaced at no charge.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Walmart Rejects Student Singers on 9/11?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PEMBROKE PINES, Fla.) -- No good deed really does go unpunished, as students from Coconut Palm Elementary in Miramar, Fla., discovered on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.

On that day, 75 students ages 7 to 10 -- all of whom were born post 9/11-- showed up at a Walmart store in Pembroke Pines, Fla. dressed in red, white and blue to sing “God Bless America,” as had been previously arranged.

But according to the Sun-Sentinel, a Walmart representative forbade the students from singing inside the store. Instead of singing inside the store, where students had hoped to surprise and cheer customers, they performed under a flag at half-mast outside.

At that time, police showed up in response to a report of a “flash mob situation.”

On Wednesday evening, Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling apologized on behalf of the company.

“We regret this happened and sincerely apologize to all those involved for this experience,” Whaling said in a statement to ABC News. “We recognize that this situation should have been handled differently and have reached out to the school to apologize and welcome them back to the store. We’ve enjoyed working with the school and want to continue our support.”

According to school principal Terri Thelmas, the performance had originally been approved by a manager named "Frank." But Frank was nowhere to be found when students arrived; they were later told he was fired. Another manager said the chorus was a “liability” and refused them permission to sing indoors.

“The wind was taken out of everybody’s sails -- from the parents to the teachers to the kids,” Michael DiScascio, 41, of Miramar, whose 9-year-old daughter was part of the chorus, told the newspaper. “There was a lot of confusion and disappointment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug222012

Walmart’s Layaway Program Offers Christmas in September

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Following success last year, Walmart is set to begin its layaway program a month early.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant will run its Christmas layaway program from Sept. 16 through Dec. 14 in an effort to give parents more time to shop and pay for items this year.

“Last year, millions of Americans relied on layaway at Walmart to provide a great Christmas for their families,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer, Walmart U.S., in a written statement.  “Because of their feedback, we’re offering the service again this year and making it better than ever.”

For fans who “like” the company’s Facebook page, Walmart will allow users to begin layaway on Sept. 14 -- two days early.

This year the company will allow customers to lay away small home appliances and sporting goods in addition to toys and electronics.  (Shoppers can only lay away items valued at $15 or more.)

The layaway program requires a down payment of $10 or 10 percent -- whichever is greater -- and a $15 open fee.  The open fee is more than three times the rate in 2011.

According to a spokeswoman for Walmart, the company last year charged a $5 open fee and $10 cancellation fee.

“If you see it through, like the majority of our customers do, the money will be returned,” a spokeswoman for Walmart told ABC News.

“When it came to the fees, what mattered most to our customers was getting them back,” the spokeswoman added.

This year the retailer will refund the “open fee” in the form of a Walmart gift card after customers make the final layaway payment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul092012

Walmart Greeter, 73, Fired for Touching Customer

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- A 73-year-old former Walmart  greeter in St. Petersburg, Fla., says she’s been in a downward spiral and has had to sell her house after she was fired for grabbing an unruly customer on Black Friday last year.

“Walmart was my family. I didn’t have no family other than them,” Janice Sullivan told ABC Tampa affiliate WFTS reporter Kimberly Kuizon.

Sullivan had worked at Walmart for over 22 years. Last Black Friday, she was instructed to guard the entrance to prevent customers from exiting there. She said she was pushed by an angry customer leaving the store.

“I said, ‘Well I’m sorry, ma’am, you have to go around by the registers to go out,’” Sullivan told WFTS. “She said, ‘no, I’m going out’ and she just gave me a big push.”

Three days later, Sullivan said Walmart fired her because she laid her hands on the customer.

“I grabbed her to keep me from falling. That’s why I grabbed her,” she said.

Sullivan tried to collect unemployment but she said she was denied by the state because she was fired for “misconduct.” To make ends meet, she sold her home on June 29 and has maxed out her credit cards.

A spokeswoman for Walmart provided a statement to ABC News, saying, “Based on the information we have, the situation led to a bad experience for our customer and it could have been avoided. We had to make a tough decision – one that we don’t take lightly.”

The company has a policy against associates physically engaging with customers.

“I was trying to do my job,” Sullivan says.

Walmart says the company conducted a thorough investigation and concluded all available information did not match what has been depicted.

“We understand this is a difficult situation, and we’re glad Ms. Sullivan will be able to move forward,” the company said.  ”We wish her the best.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Walmart Stores Push Nearby Home Prices Up, Economists Find 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, has been chastised for skimping on workers' wages and health care perks, but critics now may have a silver lining as the giant retailer positivelty affects housing prices.

An economics research paper from the University of Chicago and Brigham Young University found that the presence of a Walmart led to the increase of housing prices by 2 to 3 percent on average for homes within 0.5 miles of the store.  For houses located between 0.5 and 1 mile of the store, prices increased 1 to 2 percent.

The researchers analyzed 159 stores that opened between 2000 and 2006 that had available housing price data, and compared home prices 2.5 years before and after the Walmart opened.

Devin Pope, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, who wrote the paper along with his brother, Jaren Pope, an economics professor at Brigham Young University, said many people have written about the positive and negative outcomes of Walmart stores, which number more than 4,400 in the U.S., including Sam's Club warehouses.  Walmart has 10,130 retail units in 27 countries, according to the company website.

The study looked at stores in 20 states, all with varying numbers of stores.  California had the most stores analyzed at 36, while Florida had the second largest number at 21. Six states, including Tennessee and Wisconsin, had only one store analyzed.

Devin Pope said housing prices may provide some picture that shows the net impact of a Walmart store on a neighborhood.

"When you see housing prices increase and a change in an environmental amenity, there is a group of people happy with that amenity," he said.

Devin Pope said the analysis controlled for other factors that may have led to the price increases, such as national housing trends.  The paper does not explain how home prices changed in each city because the analysis was conducted at the aggregate level to control for national trends.

Devin Pope said the paper did not research trends past 2.5 years after the Walmart was built, but it is possible prices would increase further.

However, he said, he would be surprised if home prices did not decrease in some of the 159 communities he studied as a result of the Walmart.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

Walmart Cuts Funds to Conservative Group, Cash Flow to GOP Continues

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart joined an ever-growing list this week of American business giants that have cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council after the conservative group strayed from the company's mission.

Instead of sticking solely to economic issues, ALEC has recently ventured into social topics like gun laws and voter ID requirements, issues that Walmart president Maggie Sans said make the divide between ALEC’s activities and Walmart’s mission “too wide.”

But while America’s largest retailer is publicly backing away from this conservative cause, Wal-Mart’s owners are still pumping major money into conservative candidates.

The Walton family, which owns Walmart, has already donated $624,100 to Republican candidates and Super PACs this cycle, according to disclosure data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Ninety percent of those donations went to support GOP presidential candidates.

Jim Walton, the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton and the eighth richest man in America according to Forbes, initially put his money behind Jon Huntsman. The billionaire gave $2,500 to Huntsman’s campaign and $100,000 to Our Destiny PAC, which supported Huntsman. But after Huntsman’s campaign floundered, Walton switched his support to Romney, dumping $200,000 into the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future and another $2,500 into the Romney campaign.

Walton’s sister-in-law Christy split her campaign contributions among two GOP contenders, both of which were among the first four candidates to drop out of the race. In November she showed some billionaire love for Jon Huntsman, giving $50,000 to the Super PAC supporting him and $2,500 to his campaign.

Days after then-candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment, Walton donated the legal maximum of $2,500 to his campaign.

Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam Walton, has kept all of her donations fixed on Romney, giving the maximum $2,500 to his campaign and an additional $200,000 to the Super PAC supporting him.

None of the Waltons have donated to Democrats, Federal Election Commission reports show.

But while the Waltons are stridently conservative in their campaign contributions, the people that work for them are a bit more bipartisan.

So far in 2012 Walmart employees and its affiliated political action committees have split the $620,000 that they have donated so far in 2012 fairly equally between Republican and Democratic candidates.

Unlike Walmart’s owners, the company’s political action committee leans a bit to the left this year, giving $2,000 more to Democratic candidates than to Republicans, a wide departure from the PAC’s Republican past. In the 2004 election the PAC gave 3.5 times as much to GOP candidates as they gave to Democrats.

Steven V. Restivo, Walmart’s senior director of community affairs, insisted that the company’s campaign contributions are not pegged toward a party but toward particular policies.

“At Walmart, we have a long history of supporting elected officials on both sides of the aisle,” Restivo said in an email to ABC News. “The company contributes to candidates that are supportive of issues that are important to our customers, associates and shareholders.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

Walmart Plans to Roll Out More Smaller Stores

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart, which has arguably mastered the art of the giant big-box retail store, said it plans to roll out smaller stores throughout the U.S.

Walmart Express stores range from 12,000 to 15,000 square feet, significantly smaller than the 624 Walmart Discount stores, which average 108,000 square feet and employ about 225 people.  There are an additional 3,029 Walmart Supercenters, which are even larger, and include specialty centers for vision and car repair.

Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, said the first 10 Walmart Express stores, which served as testers, turned profitable in their first year.

"We are pretty happy with the initial 10 that we put into the ground," Simon said during a Morgan Stanley Retail conference last week in Boston.

The first two Walmart Express test stores opened in June 2011 in northwest Arkansas, and North and South Carolina were soon added as locations.

Reports of Walmart officials shutting down a bribery investigation related to its Mexican subsidiary last month haven't dampened the company's U.S. expansion plans, at least for these smaller express stores.  Walmart's audit committee is continuing to examine possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  The U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are also investigating the allegations.

"Later this year, we will be moving to phase two to test density in a specific market," David Tovar, spokesman for Walmart, told ABC News, although the company has not yet announced which market Walmart is testing.

Simon said the Express stores were "designed as a bit of a hybrid between a food, pharmacy and convenience store.  Some have gas, some don't; most have a pharmacy, but some don't."

The company said the smaller stores offer customers flexibility, especially to those who live in areas that lack larger stores.

"Now, the next phase for us is about how big could this be.  And I think that's important in that we're moving into a phase where we are going to work on the construction costs and we're going to work on the distribution costs," Simon said during the conference.  "Again, already profitable, but we want to get them up to what would be the fleet average, or hopefully beyond that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

Osama Bin Laden Debate: Why Walmart Moms Won't Care

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty ImagesANALYSIS
By AMY WALTER, ABC News Political Director


(WASHINGTON) -- If you want to know why Americans are frustrated and fed up with Washington, I present exhibit A: the debate between Democrats and Republicans over Osama Bin Laden.

Democrats suggest that Mitt Romney may not have had the guts to take out the Al Qaeda leader while Republicans sniff that the president’s public preening over the successful operation is unseemly.

Americans, meanwhile, have been very clear that they want the candidates to fix the economy, not one-up each other on their anti-terrorism credentials. In January of 2012, 51 percent of Americans polled by ABC/Washington Post said that the economy was the single most important issue in their choice for President. A paltry 2 percent picked the issue of terrorism/national security.

Eight years ago, in the first presidential campaign after the 9/11 attacks, 22 percent of Americans said terrorism was their top concern. And, while the economy was important to their vote, just 26 percent said it was their top issue in the 2004 campaign.

Today, it is the GDP, not OBL that is driving this election. And, many Americans feel that Washington doesn’t understand or appreciate just how tough this economy has been on them.

Nowhere is this frustration more evident than among a group of 29 moms brought together by Walmart for an online discussion about the economy and the upcoming election.

These “Walmart moms” – defined as a voter with kids under 18 living at home who shops at Walmart at least once a month – are a sought-after demographic. Even more important, the women engaged in this online discussion were from the key battleground states of Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The discussion was moderated by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Momentum Analysis, a Democratic firm. What they found was that these women are hurting financially. Almost every one of them had a story about how she and her family had to cut back, go without, or sacrifice.

When asked to pick their most important issue, all picked the economy or “domestic issues.” Not one picked “foreign policy issues like Iraq, Afghanistan or the war on terrorism.” Moreover, these women expressed a deep frustration with the disconnect between what they experience in their day-to-day lives and what they see going on in Washington.

In a memo outlining the findings, Alex Bratty of Public Opinion Strategies and Margie Omero of Momentum Analysis writes: “Walmart Moms are frustrated with the state of the country, but they are skeptical about Washington’s ability to address the key issues that will have a positive, tangible impact on their household. These moms do not feel well represented. They see their elected officials and candidates running for office – whether for President or Member of Congress – as being elitist, out‐of‐touch and often focused on the wrong issues: arguing about social issues when they should be discussing ways to improve the economy, reduce gas prices and get the country back on track.”

So, while Democrats and Republicans bicker over the death of a terrorist leader killed over a year ago, these Walmart moms, and many just like them, are probably tuning them out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar132012

SEC Pressured to Implement CEO to Worker Pay Disclosure

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Danny Stauffer of Milwaukee has been working as a baker at Walmart for almost five years.  His salary is $9.40 an hour, up from a starting wage of $7.11.

Stauffer, 26, said has tried to work full-time at the company, but hasn't had success.

"I actually like the work I do," he said.  "The people I work with, the work itself -- they're all great.  It just doesn't pay the bills."

A provision of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform act proposes that public companies disclose the ratio of the CEO's pay to that of the median salary of company workers.  But two years after Dodd-Frank was passed, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not yet implemented the rule or initiated the rule-making process.  Business groups have opposed the rule, while advocates for corporate reform have pressured the regulatory agency to work quickly.

Stauffer, who is a member of the Walmart employees group, OURWalmart, said he would support the Dodd-Frank provision to provide more disclosure to not only shareholders, but to the chief executive officers of companies across the U.S.

"Obviously there's only one of them and a lot of us, but it shows how hard we have to work, how much profit there is to go around, and how little we see," Stauffer said.  "It does not make me happy that the CEO gets to enjoy such a great life off of our labor."

Stauffer said he dropped out of college because he struggled to keep up with his tuition on his income.  He said he has tried to find a second job to support himself while living in a basement and receiving public assistance.

If Stauffer was working full-time for 40 hours a week, he would make about $18,800 a year.

The total compensation for Walmart's CEO Michael Duke was $18.7 million, a drop of 2.7 percent, for the last fiscal year which ended in January 2011, the company reported last April.  His salary increased 2.4 percent to $1.2 million.

Based on just Duke's salary and not his total compensation, the ratio would be 63.8 to one.  But based on Duke's total compensation, the ratio would be 994.7 to one.

In a statement to ABC News, Walmart said: "When you look at pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement, Walmart offers some of the best jobs in the retail industry. Last year, we promoted more than 161,000 associates and roughly three-fourths of our store management teams started out in hourly positions with the company."

"It's important to note that 'OURWalmart' is a union-backed, union-funded organization attempting to further its own political and financial agenda," the statement continued. "They do not represent our associates at any of our locations. We've seen other places where they have pitched associates to media for stories and, largely, the experiences they offer up typically don't reflect the norm within our base of 1.2 million associates in the U.S."

"You are correct in saying $12.14 is the average hourly wage for a full-time associate hourly associate in a Wisconsin Walmart store. The current average wage, nationally, for a full-time associate is $12.40," Walmart said.

The company said it hasn't taken a position on the pay disclosure rule.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the author of the provision Section 953(b), and other members of Congress, signed letters to the SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro last week urging the agency to move forward with the rule-making process.

"It might embarrass some companies to reveal that they pay their CEO in the range of 400 times what they pay their typical worker, but that's important information for both investors and workers to know," he told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio