Wal-Mart’s Sales Problem—And America’s

Wal-Mart’s Sales Problem—And America’s

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WSJ – The Super Bowl was played on Feb. 3, with the Baltimore Ravens coming out on top. The loser claimed, with some justification, that the officials stole the game. The loser I refer to is Wal-Mart, WMT +0.94% not the unlucky San Francisco 49ers.

February was a rotten month for the Bentonville Giants. Rarely does one hear musings such as “Where are all the customers?” and “Where is their money?”—let alone grumblings such as “total disaster” and “the worst in seven years”—from senior executives in a publicly traded company. Such wording is frowned upon in Investor Relations 101. But that is how Cameron Geiger, Wal-Mart’s vice president for merchandise replenishment, described woeful February sales in a leaked email.

Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon quickly stepped in bearing higher shareholder dividends and an explanation. It was the officials’ fault, he said. Mr. Simon didn’t mean the pinstriped guys who rule the gridiron, but the U.S. Congress and the Internal Revenue Service. The Washington zebras made two misjudged calls that wrecked Wal-Mart’s hopes for February.

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