Not only is Walmart suffering from declining sales, but they are also having trouble keeping their shelves stocked in an efficient manner. A Bloomberg News story last week reported that the world’s largest retailer has hired consultants to “walk the aisles and track whether hundreds of items are in stock.”
A combination of more products (the return of about 8,500 items in an effort to boost their competitiveness) and reduced labor hours has created a logjam in storage areas, so much so that an industry expert says some items meant for bare shelves may actually be misplaced in the back room. Although a Walmart spokesperson claimed last week that the company’s in-stock levels are at historical highs, one Walmart supplier thinks they are worse today than in the past. The supplier said that during the summer less than 90 percent of items in a typical basket of goods were available for shoppers.
Problems stocking the shelves must be an embarrassing issue for Walmart, which attributes much of its success to superior supply chain practices. Factor in their nine consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales, caused in part by competition from Aldi, dollar stores and Amazon, and the retail giant needs some good news to report.