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12 Days of Giving gives $1.5 million

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart on Friday wrapped up its 12 Days of Giving campaign with a $70,000 donation of warm clothing to 14 non-profits groups.

One of the organizations selected to receive a donation, the Assistance League of Yuma, serves its community by using proceeds from their thrift store to provide clothing, shoes, hats and more to children in need. Operation School Bell allows the organization to bring groups of students from rural schools twice a year to get clothing.

Over twelve consecutive days, Walmart has awarded a total of $1.5 million to 140 organizations across the country that are providing basic needs and services such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Organizations receiving grants today are featured on Walmart’s Live Better tab on Facebook. The organizations serve communities in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

"As temperatures drop, many people lack the resources to buy clothes to keep themselves and their families warm throughout the winter," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. "The local organizations selected today are meeting this need in their communities with donations of cold-weather essentials such as socks, coats and gloves."

Walmart’s November call for submissions resulted in more than 21,677 nominations from Facebook users who submitted descriptions of each nonprofit’s impact in its local community. Submissions were initially reviewed by Walmart associates from across the company and then a panel from the Walmart Foundation selected the winning organizations.

 

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Will Mike Duke retire in 2013?

BY CSA STAFF

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., president and CEO Mike Duke claims to love working for a company where success and size have resulted in high expectations, but that love affair may be ending in 2013.

Speculation regarding Duke’s tenure as CEO is nothing new. It began in the fall of 2008 as soon as it was announced he would succeed then president and CEO Lee Scott. Duke was 58 at the time and only one year younger than Scott, so he was never viewed as the same type of long term leadership solution that Scott was. Scott was 51 when he took over the top job in early 2000 from former president and CEO David Glass who was 64 at the time of his retirement.

Duke is now 62 and halfway between the age at which Scott and Glass gave up the post.

As Duke prepares to enter his fifth year as CEO, following four grueling years as vice chairman responsible for Walmart International, chatter has begun to heat up regarding the timing of his eventual retirement and potential successors. Adding fuel to the fire is the company’s ongoing investigation into possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Initially focused on Mexico, the extensive investigation has since expanded to Walmart operations in other regions of the world.

This investigation has been underway for more than a year and cost the company more than $100 million. At some point it has to end and when it does, if there is blame to be assigned or assumed, it could well be Duke who ends up taking the bullet for the company.

Even if that proves not to be the case, Duke may simply decide that 2013 is the right time for him to step down following a lengthy retail career. If so, the list of potential internal successors basically consists of Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, 52, and Walmart International president and CEO Doug McMillon, 45. An argument could be made that both men possess the leadership abilities to assume the top job which is a high quality problem for Walmart to have.

Duke’s eventual retirement and new responsibilities for Simon and McMillon will trigger a series of additional personnel moves that could see people like Walmart EVP and chief administrative officer Rollin Ford, 49, assume new responsibilities and open the door for Walmart to elevate additional women to high profile senior leadership positions.

Regardless of when Duke retires and who succeeds him, the job of running Walmart is unlike any other in the world and requires a special skill set. Walmart is poised to surpass $500 billion in annual sales within the next few years, ensuring the company will face enormous operational challenges even as it pursues new growth opportunities while simultaneously defending itself from criticism that never seems to fade regardless of the company’s actions.

That said, Walmart is for the most part in a good place with momentum on its side. The FCPA investigation is a huge dark cloud, but Duke contends it will make the company stronger.

"Because of our success as a company, we do face higher expectations from our customers and our associates in all areas," Duke said in a memo to employees earlier this week. "I love that the world looks to us as a leader. Walmart has an influencing role, and we must lead by example and help raise ethical standards overall. As I have said all along, we will use these events to raise the bar and make Walmart an even better company. We have ensured that the ongoing investigation has the time and resources it needs to get to the bottom of what happened."

Walmart has offered no indication on when it will get to the bottom of what happened, but if doing so results in a leadership transition Walmart may want to dust of the quote it used in the press release back when Duke was named CEO.

"This management change occurs at a time of strength and momentum for Wal-Mart," said Rob Walton, chairman of the Wal-Mart board of directors. "Our overall management team has never been stronger. We are confident that the strategy we have in place is the right one for future success and Mike has been actively involved in developing and executing this strategy. We are also pleased that our succession and management development process continues to develop leaders internally."

It’s is not hard to imagine Walton saying the same thing about a transition involving Simon or McMillon, whether such a change occurs in 2013 or beyond.

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Walmart.com traffic declined in November

BY CSA STAFF

Online sales are expected to reach record levels this holiday season, but traffic to Walmart.com was down in November compared to the same period the prior year.

That’s according to online measurement firm comScore Media Metrix which compiles a list of the top 50 Web properties each month. During November 2012, the firm showed Walmart.com with 55.8 million unique visitors compared to 58.5 million unique visitors during November 2011. Walmart was ranked 18th on the top 50 list both years. Meanwhile, 6th ranked Amazon.com was shown to have 116 million unique visitors in November 2012 compared to 112.8 million last year. Walmart was not alone in reporting a decline in web traffic during November. Only three other retailers made the top 50 including Target ranked 28th with 37.3 million unique visitors, Best Buy ranked 31st with 35.7 million unique visitors and Sears ranked 43 with 28.9 million visitors. All three saw a decline from November the prior year when Target had 40.1 million visitors, Best buy had 36.5 million visitors and Sears had 31 million visitors.

While the decline in November traffic compared to the prior year was not explained by comScore, which focused on the sequential increase compared to November and record sales, one possible explanation is higher conversion rates.

"Online holiday promotions began in earnest almost as soon as the calendar flipped to November, as retailers hoped to draw in those ambitious early-season shoppers," said Jeff Hackett, EVP of comScore. "As we moved later into the month, the promotional activity surged even higher around Black Friday and Cyber Monday as consumers spent record amounts online. Numerous retail categories saw huge gains for the month, with toys and consumer electronics sites posting the sharpest month-over-month gains."

Retail sites had a near-monopoly on the top-gaining categories chart in November, as the entire category grew 5% to 191 million visitors – representing 87% of the total U.S. online population. Toys ranked as the fastest-growing category with a 30% increase compared to October’s to 23.9 million visitors. Toysrus sites led the category with 12.4 million visitors (up 54%), followed by The LEGO Group with 3.8 million (up 34%), Disney Shopping with 2 million (up 11%), AmericanGirl.com with 1.9 million (up 60%) and Fisher Price with 1.3 million (up 28%).

Consumer Electronics sites were a close second on the top-gaining categories chart, up 29% to 59.7 million visitors. BestBuy.com ranked first in the category with 35.1 million visitors (up 90%), followed by Samsung Group with 5.4 million (up 22%) and eBay Electronics U.S. with 5.2 million (up 14%). RadioShack Corporation doubled its traffic base to 4.4 million, while Buy.com Group Sites rounded out the top five with 4.1 million.

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