New Trends in
Retailing as It Affects Our Wal-Mart Program…
If any generalization is true of retailing in the 70s, it
would have to be that our business is one of constant change. Increasingly this is just as true in our
small trade centers as well as in the larger metropolitan areas. Consequently, it is most important that all
of us in Wal-Mart be alert and curious to new trends and developments in
retailing. It is imperative that each
new process be studied and analyzed thoroughly to see if we can adopt the idea
for Wal-Mart; or oftentimes we need to be informed in order to do a better job
ourselves in certain specialized areas.
We’ve also had many innovative and excellent suggestions
given us from within our own ranks that have been incorporated into our program
for which we can be most thankful.
Let me share with you as of now some of these recent
developments that would seem to have significance to us in Wal-Mart.
There seems to be a very significant trend
developing and increasing toward the growth of specialty stores all over the
country. Such stores as fabric shops,
pharmacies, sporting goods stores, home improvement and building supply stores,
self-service shoe stores, and even the free standing pharmacy.
Then on the other side of the coin we are noting
the growth of successful operations of more and more large combination units of
food and general merchandise, usually sized over the 100,000 sq. ft.
range. They will oftentimes contain not
only a full line food department but also will contain large appliance
departments, complete soft line department store apparel and domestics, as well
as assorted hard lines department.
Increasing also is the food-hardline combo now
being pushed by many of the food companies, hopefully to attain a higher gross
margin as well as an appealing mix of merchandise for their customers.
Another interesting development that we’ll watch
is the “Hypermarche” warehouse approach to food and general merchandise as
currently being operated in various European countries. This is a high volume, low margin
(approximately 15 percent gross margin) operation. Also several of these type stores are planned
for Canada to open this fall. These are
super-large stores, up to 250,000 sq. ft. with all goods stocked in large steel
warehouse type racks similar to our Wal-Mart Distribution Center approach.
One other significant trend is a general
decision on the part of all the giant retail concert to “head for the hills” –
and away from the more competitive urban areas. Companies such as W. T. Grant, K-Mart, Woolco, and even Sears, have
decided to take a dead aim at smaller communities in the eight to twenty
thousand population range with definite smaller prototype stores for these
markets. What they may not realize is
that there already exists – at least in the mid-south and southwest – many very
capably operated true discount department stores in these markets. All the regional variety store companies now
have a discount division – Howard Stores and Howard-Gibco, as well as the
assorted Gibsons, are present with strength. Not to mention some 70 to 80 Wal-Marts, of which we’re very proud, on
the street with some 30 to 40 more in the planning stage.
predicting the majors will find some tough competitive markets and there may
not be the gold that they expected to find in such abundance in these “country”
the moral of the story is how can we best prepare ourselves for what’s ahead of
us in the coming year 1974 and through to 1980.
First, let’s all keep tuned, open, and
ready to try any new or different technique that might work for us and
strengthen our program.
Second, our major aim and concern must
constantly be to do a better job satisfying our customers, both with service
and a selection and assortment of merchandise. And nothing is more important than having concerned, interested people
at store level, doing and enjoying their jobs.
We’ve got a people company and it’s a
people satisfying business. We must
develop the proper management skills and techniques so that our program is good
for all of us at all levels in our company. Then, and only then, can we truly compete on a consistent basis with
anybody that might come down the road with whatever new approach and technique.
truly feel that our type store will need to be constantly changed with new
lines of merchandise and that certain other lines will be dropped, but the total key for our stores is that we
retain our philosophy of being not only the dominant store in our areas, but
more importantly, that we do the best job of anybody around rendering
effective, friendly customer service.
know we all agree Wal-Mart is No. 1 now, and I have a positive feeling that our
people will settle no less than that our stores remain No. 1 in our communities
for years to come. It will take us
all thinking together and working together to achieve this goal for 1974, as
well as in years to come.
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