It's the last day of March, 1978, and almost two months have flown by in this new Wal-Mart year. It just doesn't seem possible.
Our sales for February were right on target with total sales of $44,187,572 -- up 41.2 percent, and up 13 percent in comparable stores.
In spite of the worst winter weather we've experienced in years, we had an excellent sales and profit month. March also appears to be going real well, and we should come in close to a 40 percent increase for the month, and between 10 percent and 15 percent up in comparable stores, So far, so good. Our Wal-Mart Team is right on our plan for 1978.
At this time, I have a very positive feel for the year we're in. Never before have I seen the attitude and morale of our Wal-Mart associates throughout our Company at a higher level. Where I go, (and I've just finished a trip down through Louisiana and back up through Mississippi, and the week before that- over in Nick White's district, the Missouri boot heel and Northeast Arkansas), I've found everyone enthusiastic and interested in our programs and our Company.
I'm also positive in another regard – that as a company, we've got the strongest, most effective management team ever in the history of our Company. So, as I see our Company on this last day of March, we'll have our problem areas, and we'll continue to have some occasional fires to put out, but knowing the quality and the dedication of our people, there's nothing we can't accomplish together, as long as we listen and support one another.
I'd like particularly to express my appreciation to our buyers and merchandisers who have all been getting into our stores during the past several months. Everywhere I go our store associates tell me it has meant so much to them for our buyers to make that effort to come in and review their departments together. So, all of us appreciate the excellent job being done by our merchandise department and their interest in working these store visits into their busy schedules.
One thing I'm concerned about that needs to be emphasized more than ever: this year, as most of you know, we're not going to have quite as much emphasis on sales promotions as we did last year. We'll run one less major sale, and we'll not push our total advertising program to the extent we have in past years. It is more imperative than ever that in light of this we do two things, and that everyone in Wal-Mart clearly understand our position.
1. We must be more effective and stronger on our in-store promotional programs. They must be planned and carried out at store level by our store personnel to a greater degree than ever before. Use all the VPI material possible and the excellent seasonal display guides from our Sales Department. But most of all, in each store, gather with your department managers and plan and activate a total all-out campaign on good selling, gross profit items for this entire Spring and Summer season. You all know how to do it. That's been our forte in Wal-Mart. Let's really get with it throughout our Company. I know our district managers could be of great help to you in this program. Why not plan it and review it with him soon?
2. Secondly, we need to be in a better basic stock condition for the balance of 1978 more than ever before. Our goal as a company should be to be 95 percent in-stock on our basic merchandise. Each department manager should make it his or her personal objective to achieve this in-stock condition, and it can be done and still be on our inventory budget. In fact, you'll see an immediate increase in your department's sales, and the entire store's sales will respond accordingly. Never should any store manager, or department manager, pass an ordering period for basic merchandise because of an inventory over-stock. Having those good, basic items in stock at a good gross margin for our customers is the lifeblood of our company. Our good customers just don't appreciate our excuses when we're out of #50 white thread, white zippers, or their favorite fishing lure. Let's all really get behind this total program for the balance of 1978, and we'd very much appreciate your cooperation in this most important area--95 percent in-stock (not on-order) for our basic merchandise. A real challenge to our entire Company!
A last word. My hat's off to all those great people in our distribution centers and our truck drivers who are doing such a tremendous job for Wal-Mart. Again, it's due to a combination of factors. Good management direction, good interested people, better training, and above all, they're enjoying their work and doing one heck of a job. Listen to this,-- last month our distribution centers shipped 30 percent more freight than last year with 10 percent less personnel. Thanks, folks. That's quite an achievement, and all of us in Wal-Mart appreciate this excellent performance.
Only April remains in the first quarter. Let's have a good one. We need our profit sharing and that Wal-Mart stock to do even better in 1978 than 1977. I'm confident we'll do it. Thanks.
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