business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Retail Forward has done a survey suggesting that Wal-Mart is right to be concerned about its image – that 58 percent op consumers surveyed have heard stories about the company either in newspaper or on radio/TV news programs. More than three-quarters of those who heard stories about Wal-Mart said that the pieces were negative, while just 19 percent said they heard positive stories.

    The good news for the company, however, is that Wal-Mart’s target demographic – so-called Down Market households that earn less than $22,500 a year – were the least affected by the stories because they were less likely to read newspapers or pay attention to the news.

    The study also concluded that people who recalled negative news stories about Wal-Mart are only slightly less likely (19 percent) than all shoppers (21 percent) to be shopping at Wal-Mart more often than last year. People who heard positive news stories, on the other hand, were much more (32 percent) likely than the average consumer to be Wal-Mart shoppers this year; they were also less likely to have cut back on their Wal-Mart shopping.

  • Canada’s Supreme Court has handed Wal-Mart a defeat, saying it will not hear the company’s appeal of a case in which it asked the court to not allow a union certification vote at several of its Saskatchewan stores. The ruling means that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) can continue to work with the provincial labor board on the certification process.

  • The New York Times reports this morning that “Wal-Mart is upgrading a lot of its merchandise, while trying to maintain the loyalty of its core customer - the woman who is struggling to provide for herself and her family - executives at the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., said this week.

    “While whispering comparisons to Wal-Mart's rivals - Target, Gap and Bed, Bath & Beyond - Wal-Mart buyers this week showed off a kaleidoscope of new offerings at a temporary showroom near the company's headquarters, from polo shirts to plasma television sets to gourmet roast beef.

    “Executives admit the company is struggling to keep its competition at bay.”

KC's View: