Wal-Mart feels impact of economic downturn

Orlando, FL — Even Wal-Mart is not immune to a tough economy, according to Tom Coughlin, president and ceo, Wal-Mart stores division, who said that even the small changes that affect its primary consumer — the opening-price-point customer — affect the retailer.

When gas prices climb even 10 cents, "we see automatic reactions," Coughlin said at the closing keynote session, Achieving Retail Results Today and Tomorrow, at the International Mass Retail Association's convention here this week. "During tough times, we go back to the basics." The opening-price-point customer "is so critical to our success — and failures, when we don't keep it in mind."

Besides low prices, Wal-Mart also caters to its customer by assorting its stores based on what the community wants. Coughlin noted that there are five stores miles apart in northern Arkansas that sit in locations that are each uniquely different in income levels, ethnicity, and job environments — from farm communities to university communities. "It's amazing how different they are. The assortment has to be right for the community," he said.

The company's efforts also include investing in new stores, distribution centers, technology and logistics and renovating existing stores into Supercenters, he said. "We continue to build a trust level with customers."

Home & Textiles Today Staff | News & Commentary

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