Wal-Mart: Blame It On The Weather

Jun 29, 2004

By George Anderson

Both Wal-Mart and Target said yesterday same-store sales at the chains were coming in below expectations for June.

Wal-Mart said sales for stores open at least a year would be up between two and four percent. The world’s largest retailer had originally pegged the low end of its forecast at four to six percent.

Target had been looking for an increase in the five to seven percent range, but the company said actual sales at its discount stores, as well as its department store businesses, would come in “well below plan.”

Wal-Mart attributed its smaller than expected increase on flat sales for key Father’s Day product categories and unseasonably cool weather.

In a prerecorded telephone call, the company issued a statement that said, “Last year at this time we had the best week of the summer and weather was unseasonal this year. Sales in soup, hot cereal, and hot chocolate were strong this week. Sales in seasonal categories such as air movement, lawn and garden, and pool toys were very weak.”

Target did not offer an explanation for why its sales were lower than expected, but the company did say its numbers were off in children’s apparel, electronics and shoes.

Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group, told St. Paul’s (Minn.) Pioneer Press not to read too much into softer June sales for the retail giants following several months of strong sales for most of the industry. “This is going to be a good solid year for retail,’ he said.

Moderator’s Comment: Do softer than expected sales for Wal-Mart and Target in June have implications for the rest
of the U.S. retailing industry? How do you see the year stacking up for retailers?

Softer retail sales in june may just be a natural reaction to what happened in May. According to figures released by the Commerce Department yesterday,
consumer spending was up one percent in May for the single largest monthly increase in two years.

George Anderson – Moderator

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