Recession a Boon to Walmart

April 27, 2009
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More than half of surveyed shoppers said they expect to spend a larger share of their budget at Walmart.

A new survey performed by the Gordman Group of Breckenridge, Colo., found that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is winning thinning wallets across the United States - at the expense of Minneapolis-based Target Corp.

According to Gordman, the "Retail Trend Tracker Survey" involved online interviews during the first week of April with 526 consumers identified as the primary apparel and home furnishings shoppers for their families. More than half (55 percent) of respondents said they expect to spend a larger share of their budget at Walmart, while 21 percent said they expect to spend a smaller share there, a net gain of 34 percent compared to a similar Goldman study conducted in December 2008. In contrast, 25 percent and 22 percent of respondents said they expect to spend a larger share and a smaller share, respectively, of their budget at Target, amounting to a 3 percent change.

Only 49 percent of respondents admitted to being affected by the economy directly, but 80 percent of respondents reported that current economic conditions have had some effect on where they shop. Moreover, 90 percent said the economic conditions have affected how much they spend.

Meanwhile, Walmart is in the process of relaunching its Great Value brand to deliver product performance that’s on par with or better than the national brands’ - at a lower price. In the April edition of its Competitive Edge newsletter, the Barrington, Ill.-based Willard Bishop retail consulting firm noted that the relaunch is part of Walmart’s "Project Impact" program to win with shoppers - a component that will help consumers continue to "save money and live better."

Also part of Walmart’s Project Impact is a focus on "fast/friendly/clean," as well as "win/play/show" in terms of how the retailer goes to market, defines assortments and makes decisions, the Willard Bishop newsletter said.

"While some analysts have implied that Walmart’s recent success is mostly attributable to current economic woes," Willard Bishop’s Jim Hertel concluded in the newsletter, "it is indisputable that they have taken steps that, if successful, will advantage them further when the economy revives."

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