Walmart: 'Where are all the customers?'
The latest corporate earnings season is ending, but one notable household name is due to release its first-quarter results this Thursday: the ubiquitous-except-in-New-York-City Walmart.
Let's just say that expectations for the retailing giant are not exactly lofty. Last Friday, Bloomberg News published internal emails sent by Walmart executives, which indicated that sales in January and February have been poor.
"In case you haven't seen a sales report these days, February MTD [month-to-date] sales are a total disaster. The worst start to a month I have seen in my 7 years with the company," wrote Jerry Murray, Walmart's vice president of finance and logistics, in a Feb. 12 email to other executives.
"Have you ever had one of those weeks where your best- prepared plans weren't good enough to accomplish everything you set out to do?" asked Cameron Geiger, a senior vice president at Walmart U.S., in another email, dated Feb. 1, as he noted lackluster January sales. "Well, we just had one of those weeks here at Walmart U.S. Where are all the customers? And where's their money?"
Given the sheer size of Walmart, a poor earnings report from the company would indicate that people are spending less, which is bad news for the economy.
In terms of economic data, a series of housing reports for January, including existing home sales and housing starts, dominates the holiday-shortened trading week. Economists do not expect big surprises, with the housing market projected to continue improving.