Walmart Internal Emails: Sales Figures a "Total Disaster"

Michael Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart. (Getty)Bloomberg got its hands on some internal emails exchanged by Walmart (WMT) executives discussing recent sales figures, and they don't paint a rosy picture.

"February MTD [month-to-date] sales are a total disaster," said Walmart vice president of finance and logistics Jerry Murray in Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives. "The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company."

We already knew that retail sales were going to struggle to begin the year. The expiration of the payroll tax holiday meant consumers had less spending money in their pockets. And indeed, the first retail sales report since the end of the tax holiday showed spending growth grinding almost to a halt, with sales increasing just 0.1%.

But Walmart's sales woes appear to go beyond a mere slowdown. In another email obtained from Bloomberg, a senior vice president bemoans miserable January sales, asking "Where are all the customers? And where's their money?"

That's not the kind of talk shareholders want to hear, and Walmart stocked predictably nose-dived in response to the news. Shares were down almost 3% on the day to close trading Friday.

Walmart was quick with the damage control, warning that "we often see internal communications that are not entirely accurate, that lack the proper context and represent individual opinions."

Walmart's fourth-quarter results are due out next week, which means that it will be May before we get to see the first-quarter results that have Walmart's executives in such a tizzy. Once the Street gets a peek at those numbers, we'll see whether shareholders continue to believe Walmart's everything-is-fine spin -- or if they agree that the sky really is falling in Bentonville.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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I use to love Walmart. My visits are usually $200.00 plus. The stores operate on profit. So why do we always have empty shelves? Their brands are awful. Zesta crackers are gone. Only Premium to buy. Vlasic pickles and kraut gone. Get use to a bakery product, bingo they stop making it. Lehigh Acres, Florida has to be the worst run store in the US. Their produce dept is so dirty I do not buy there anymore. If you check their prices, you will find good buys. Walmart has lost their personal pride. Sam has got to be so angry. You're right they are just too big to have any care for their customers.

February 22 2013 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Type your commGive me a break, they only made 50 billion instead of 51 that month?? It says they grew .1%, when you are talking about a company that size, that is a tremendous amount of money. That .1% is more than most people make their entire lives. Why is everything always more more more more more?

February 22 2013 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wal-Mart or should we say China-Mart is trying to another 'too big to fail'. What's there to like: low wages, not paying employees for overtime, little loyalty to U.S. products, few if any benefits and known to have hired undocumented workers. Wal-Mart sucks. They often get subsidizes to open stores. Wal-Mart has an open pipeline to U.S. commerce. Free Market or not they have hurt our economy in my opinion. Many of their employees are on local/federal(tax payers)social services. Cheap crap has come at a price.

February 18 2013 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Having been in retail most of my adult life, I find it remarkable that Walmart has gotten so far away from it's founding principles. Fair pricing and helpful associates. Now they have neither. They have lost the loyalty of their
people by cutting positions, salaries, hourly rates and benefits. Next they have signs that say CLEARANCE with a markdown of 6 cents. Is that supposed to entice me to buy? It does nothing but insult me. How much does it take ot make the signs, find a plastic holder, find the correct item and place it on the rack. Savings of 5 cents to 10 cents are common.

February 18 2013 at 6:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I just left Walmart where I inconvenienced and employee who had to get something out of a locked cabinet, so I could buy it. I then left with the check out woman keeping 1/4 of my stuff at the checkout. Had to go back to get it. Do the employees take a training class to learn how to be so rude and unhelpful or are they screened for employment to get such folks?

February 18 2013 at 4:17 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe they should start paying their help. I know a number of people that will not set foot in the store as Target prices are just as good and the store is a much more pleasant experience. WalMart blows very bad place to shop. Maybe that is the reason. Its going to be a disaster.

February 18 2013 at 2:07 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RED SKULL's comment

I didn't know their employees worked for free.

February 18 2013 at 2:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dembaitnswitch's comment

Google it. They often have been accused and found to have not paid for overtime. a FACT.

February 18 2013 at 10:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

Cheap labor, cheap prices. Walmart started something they can't control.

February 18 2013 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When and only when Walmart carries American Made products, treats their employees fairly by giving them full time hours benefits, then and only then will I spend my hard earned money there.Wake up Walmart America is getting tired of you.

February 18 2013 at 1:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to dogsaver's comment

Walmart managers in Lumberton Texas are telling their employees that they're cutting back employee hours because the tax refund checks are late and affecting sales, and it's Obama's fault.

February 18 2013 at 12:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

They give up a business plan that has worked for a lot of years and went to an untried one that anyone over the age of 50 should have been able to tell them would not work, you do NOT raise prices so you can discount them, we are not stupid, and our memory span is usually longer than the two weeks you allow for price phlishing. Just because you are bigger than a lot of state and even world governments does not mean you can screw your customers with out a kiss, the politicians have all ready removed our money through the back door and wal mart wants to enlarge the opening so they can get in.

February 18 2013 at 12:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply