Wal-Mart’s CEO Lists Concerns
By George Anderson
Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart stores, has a
lot on his mind and he shared his concerns with an audience at the Little Rock
Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Fortune 500 luncheon this week.
Mr. Scott expressed concern about the impact higher energy gasoline prices
may have on consumer purchasing. He rightly pointed out that a good number of
Wal-Mart’s customers could not afford to pay an additional $10 a week on gas.
Money being spent there, he said, was not being used to shop at Wal-Mart or
for leisure pursuits.
The Wal-Mart exec also expressed concern about the tone of the political debate
in the country as we draw nearer the presidential election. According to the
ArkansasBusiness.com, Mr. Scott said “the steady stream of negative ads could
lead people to believe that the country is in terrible shape, with jobs flowing
overseas and runaway unemployment. But that’s not the reality.”
Mr. Scott was hopeful that Democrats and Republicans could get together and
solve the health care coverage crisis in the country. He defended Wal-Mart’s
commitment to providing affordable coverage to employees saying the company
spends $2 billion annually on its plan.
Wal-Mart, said Mr. Scott, needs to be more aggressive in getting out its message
that it is good for communities in delivering low prices and creating employment
opportunities. The recent vote against the retailer in Inglewood, Cal., demonstrates
the company has work to do in communicating its message to consumers, he said.
Moderator’s Comment: Which of the concerns mentioned
(or not) by Lee Scott in his speech do you think poses the greatest threat to
Wal-Mart’s growth arc?
Despite losing the Inglewood vote this week, Wal-Mart
will still build upwards of 350 stores this year. – George
Anderson – Moderator