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Walmart’s Lagging Domestic Sales Worry Some: Overseas Sales Are Strong
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Big box retailers, including Wal Mart, Home Depot and Lowes, are seeing fairly dismal domestic sales, while overseas sales are not only remaining strong but in fact, increasing. Wal Mart officials revealed recently that foot traffic in US stores is greatly decreased but that people are actually spending more per trip when they do come in. Wal Mart saw nearly $3.5 billion in profits last year but the bulk of that was from overseas sales which are up over eleven percent.

Domestic sales for the Arkansas based super retailer has been decreasing for nearly eight years now and it has been nearly two years since those sales have been the source of any growth for the company. Wal Mart has long had a history of strong sales, even in areas that have hotly protested its presence, however, recent economic changes and events have changed the fate for the giant.

Unemployment in the United States is hovering around 9% while at the same time prices for gas and nearly all food items are rising quickly. Gas prices are hovering at or slightly above $4 a gallon which is affecting all sectors of food production and distribution. In addition to the high gas prices, experts are warning that a continued drought in the western states could start affecting the price of beef and dairy in the coming months.

Wal Mart is not the only big box retailer that is seeing depressing declines in domestic sales with home improvement giants, Home Depot and its closest competitor, Lowes, are also registering lower sales in addition to decreased foot traffic. Home Depot’s sales for the last quarter were down .2%, while Lowes was seeing a nearly 4 percent decrease in the number of visits to their stores. In addition to seeing fewer people in the stores, Lowes has reported that the projects that are being planned by customers are much smaller in relation to this time last year, with the average being around $500 or less per family. Spring and summer are the biggest sales seasons for these and similar types of retail outlets.

Other types of retail outlets are also feeling the economic pinch with Staples, Office Max and Office Depot all reporting less than stellar earnings in recent quarters. Staples, the largest of the three, announced that their plans to open more stores have been largely curtailed. Stock prices for that chain plummeted and both smaller lines are seeing similar results. Experts are pushing for consolidation with at least one of the stores being absorbed by the other. People are not buying their supplies at Staples, Office Max or Office Depot any longer, opting for online resources for their office supply needs.

Continued joblessness, increased prices, especially for food and gas, and rising debt per family are working to keep the stores from earning profits like they once did. Nearly thirty percent of homeowner’s are reportedly “under water”, in other words, they owe more on their home than it is actually worth.

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