Message from Sam Walton
It appears now on this first day of June that May has been good for us. Last week our sales were up 14 percent in comparable stores, and with the fantastic results I’m hearing form our Memorial Day weekend sales, including all those sidewalk gyrations, we should have an excellent month. Many of your districts were reporting sales increases of 30 to 60 percent over the weekend. So looks like we’re off to a good quarter – thanks to the efforts of everyone throughout our very fine Company.
I really enjoyed my Memorial Day trip yesterday with two of our Regional Vice President’s – Gary Reinboth and Nick White. Gary and I were supposed to be at our new store which opened in Iowa Park, Texas yesterday morning, and Nick, who has the Alabama-Mississippi region, joined us for a postman’s holiday, but heavy thunderstorms and weather down that way prevented, so we took a plane and attended the three openings of remodeled stores at Stillwater, Chickasha and Okmulgee, Oklahoma. All three stores were ready and in great shape. I don’t know when I’ve felt so good about seeing what some of our wonderful associates can accomplish under some most adverse circumstances. In all three locations we’ve expanded into the Garden Center areas, causing considerable construction activity, wall moving, ect.- all going on during our remodeling. And in all three instances those three stores have continued to have above average Company increases and still had their stores looking brand new and more than ready for their Grand-reopenings yesterday. So I salute those associates, especially, that we visited yesterday. You’ve got that Wal-Mart Pride – enthusiasm and loyalty that is so important in achieving those “impossibles” that we sometimes lay on ourselves. In particular, I enjoyed visiting with our associates in all three stores who have been with us since the stores opened over 7 years ago. You’re wonderful folks and are doing such a fine job for our Company. Actually, the same can be said for most all our Wal-Mart Company and stores this year of 1982. We’re having an almost impossible year as a whole. But you and I know we’ll be successful and achieve our goals and objectives.
This A.M. – and it is early – I could salute all you other wonderful associates in all our other remodeled and expanded stores that have been done since our year started. As an example, these stores also had reopenings yesterday – Lake City, South Carolina; McMinville, Winchester, and Shelbyville, Tennessee; Frankfort Kentucky; and Mt. Pleasant, Texas, which makes a total of 62 since January that have been done, in addition to opening some 14 new Wal-Marts. So I would recognize and thank also our Store Opening personnel, as well as all those wonderful assistants, department managers, and all our associates that have been involved in our new store and remodeling and expansion program.
Our great team of Wal-Mart truck drivers deserve an extra pat on the back these days. They held a series of meetings in Searcy, Bentonville, and Palestine. They came up with a fuel savings program that will involve a more controlled, careful, and slower operation of our trucks where the speeds will not exceed the posted limits. The results have already been startling. Last year our drivers improved their mileage on our truck fleet from 4.6 miles to 5.2 miles per gallon. Now their goal just established is to beat the 6 mile limit per gallon, and I understand that many of our drivers last week achieved as high as 6 ½ , and some even over 7. What an accomplishment! Think of what this alone will save our Company just this year when our trucks will travel almost 35,000,000 miles. According to my numbers, the savings from a year ago – 4.6 to 6 miles per gallon – would be in excess of $7,000,000 that our great Transportation Department and Wal-Mart trucks are adding back to our Wal-Mart Profit Sharing and bottom line net profit.
Nice going, fellas! I really enjoyed meeting with you all in Bentonville and Searcy last week, and just wish I could have made it to Palestine too. I’ll get by there soon, hopefully. Also, I know how much Jack Shewmaker, Don Soderquist, and Lee Scott appreciated attending your meetings and getting to visit with you all as well. I know I speak for all our associates when I say “thanks” and keep up the good work. As a team, Wal-Mart’s tough and getting better everyday.
But we need to – in the competitive climate we face today from other aggressive retailers around the country.
We’ve just returned from a 3 day meeting of our industry – the National Mass Retailers Institute Annual Meeting in San Diego. I wish all of you could have been present. While there I visited several very interesting retail stores. The most innovative and challenging would be the Price Club which started in San Diego – Food and General Merchandise – in old buildings – 6 stores that this year will do over $325,000,000. An interesting philosophy – a warehousing approach – a very low expense structure like 8 to 9 percent, and a total of gross margin or markup in the 10 to 11 percent range. A simple straightforward approach – low expenses, quality name brands, low everyday prices, no advertising, huge sales volume, and with it we need to keep challenging ourselves. Is there a better way? How can we further reduce our prices and our expenses? What should our stores look like five years out? Together we have to keep searching and finding those better ways.
I’ve long been a student and admirer of K mart, and my present opinion is that they’re doing a great many things right and will progressively improve their program and remain a very viable and good tough competitor for us for years to come.
TG&Y also is in an interesting stage of development. This is another of our excellent competitors that have made us get better over the years. They too, are rolling out a new format and concept. An entirely new presentation with a new name called “Aim for the Best”. Their first unit will open this month in Albany, Georgia, then another soon in Stillwater, Oklahoma. These stores will reportedly offer a large assortment of name brands, both hardlines and softlines, plus an upscaled look and presentation that will involve all that’s best in the Target – Wal-Mart – K mart look.
We’ll all be most anxious to see this new one from TG&Y, and it, too, will be a formidable retail vehicle.
So it goes, my friends. Competition. We’ve always had it and always will. It will get better and stronger, but you know what we’ve always said. Competition is the essence of Free Enterprise. Competition is great. Let them come on. It just makes us better. And you and I know that is has and does work that way for Wal-Mart. We will compete and we will continue to listen to our customers and to each other. That’s our Wal-Mart way. We care – and we, too, will keep improving and someday become one of the truly great retail companies of the world.
I’ve rambled, my friends, but I have enjoyed this visit with you. Lastly, be careful on your vacation travels this summer. We need you all, and hopefully, we all need each other.