Walmart struggles to stock shelves with fewer employees

March 26, 2013

Walmart's thinly spread workforce could be contributing to its increasingly empty shelves. According to an article on Bloomberg, the retailer's disorganized stores are getting worse, and shoppers are abandoning them in droves.

The article reported that in the past five years, Walmart added 455 U.S. stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company's website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam's Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent.

Walmart's restocking challenge coincides with slowing sales growth, the article reported. Same-store sales in the U.S. for the 13 weeks ending April 26 will be little changed, Bill Simon, the company's U.S. chief executive officer, said in a Feb. 21 earnings call.

The following excerpt from the article highlights the impact of Walmart's lack of manpower:

At the Kenosha, Wisconsin, Wal-Mart where Mary Pat Tifft has worked for nearly a quarter-century, merchandise ready for the sales floor remains on pallets and in steel bins lining the floor of the back room -- an area so full that "no passable aisles" remain, she said. Meanwhile, the front of the store is increasingly barren, Tifft said. That landscape has worsened over the past several years as workers who leave aren't replaced, she said.

"There's a lot of voids out there, a lot of voids," said Tifft, 58, who oversees grocery deliveries and is a member of OUR Walmart, a union-backed group seeking to improve working conditions at the discount chain. "Customers come in, they can't find what they're looking for, and they're leaving."

"There's no manpower in the store to get the merchandise moving," she said.

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Topics: Customer Experience , Customer Service , Merchandising , Supply Chain

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