Tag Archives: Target

House GOP Doesn’t Listen Any Better than Walmart

New GOPOccasionally the wrong person takes a column to heart.

Earlier this month I wrote that Walmart doesn’t help its PR efforts when the company acts in a manner that only serves to reinforce its reputation as the Simon Legree of retail. (Details here.) In this instance an Ohio store had a display in the employee break room asking for donations to help other Walmart employees that had fallen on hard times during the Thanksgiving & Christmas season.

Asking employees who earn an average of $12.83/hour to contribute to other employees is a touching testimony to the innate decency of the Walmart workforce, but it also calls up unfortunate images of the widow’s mite particularly in comparison with the wealth of the Walton family.

The column concluded with a look at Walmart’s Associates in Critical Need Trust. This is a fund that dispenses up to $1,500 to employees suffering severe financial setbacks. (This does not include a bad losing streak in connection with the Powerball lottery.)

I liked the sound of that, until I learned that once again these donations are no skin off the Walton family’s stock certificates. This trust is funded by voluntary payroll deduction, again from the $12.83/hour employees.

And that’s when problems began at the Shannon household.

My wife announced that unless the Walton family stops being so selfish (they have $144 billion in Walmart stock) and makes a major contribution to the Trust we will be boycotting Walmart. Generally I have no problem with boycotts. It’s an individual decision that uses the market to bring pressure on a merchant. No government intervention required. Colonists did it during the run up to the Revolution.

For taste and political reasons, I never darken the door of Starbucks (homosexual marriage is “part of the corporate DNA”), Caribou Coffee (Sharia–compliant finance) or Chipotle (one of the nation’s leading employers of illegals).

On the other hand I’m also cheap, so I regularly shop at Walmart, in spite of linguistic encounters with Walmart employees that graphically illustrate what retail shopping is going to be like after John Boehner decides it’s safe to grant illegals amnesty.

The wife says Target is going to be the windfall beneficiary of Shannon shopping dollars in the future. But I have mixed emotions regarding that store, too. All too often in the Sunday advertising circular the clothes younger models wear contribute to the sexualization of tweenaged shoppers. Young girls are hard enough to shop for without major retailers urging them to dress like pint–sized Kim Kardashians.

This is not a problem encountered when viewing the frumpy models in a Walmart catalog. I don’t know for certain whom it is wearing those dowdy clothes, but most of them appear to be related to Fred and Ethel Mertz. Regardless of age there are no sex symbols in a Walmart catalog.

Besides the Target food section is mostly full of do–it–yourself yogurt mixes and it is about one third the size of Walmart’s. (Although, credit where credit is due, Target does carry Malt–O–Meal.) I do hate sneaking around behind my wife’s back. The fact that my future secret assignations are with a major retail chain and not a hoochie mama is probably a commentary on the dullness of my existence, but I plan to continue to visit Walmart.

On the other hand I won’t be visiting Republican members of the Virginia House delegation. Last week I wrote about the shameful Boehner/Ryan sellout they tried to spin as a “budget deal.” (Details here.) This capitulation raises taxes (fees), increases spending and negates the sequester.

Ryan is so proud of himself. The good congressman says he’s increased Pentagon spending by $2 billion, which means all the Coffee Colonels there can go back to using the Keurig instead of making do with Nescafe. In return for all this bounty Ryan agreed to let the Democrats increase their spending by $22 billion! That’s an 11 to 1 ratio and we’re on the short side.

GOP apologists talk about future spending cuts contained in the deal, but with these big spenders the cuts always remain in the future, just over the horizon, like a mirage.

You can’t bind a future Congress to a deal made today. Heck this Congress can’t even bind itself. Who do you think negotiated the original sequester?

Now Boehner is flush with positive MSM coverage and has declared war on the TEA party. He’s tired of having Obama hand him his hat, so the great strategist turns on his base. Now maybe Karl Rove will return his phone calls.

At times like this the favorite criticism of the TEA party centers on Senate candidates. The TEA party supported candidates that lost and that cost Republicans the Senate.

Establishment Republicans never foist a loser on the electorate. Just look at the great work being done by President Romney and Senator George Allen. Not to mention that paragon of tanning, Senator Charlie Crist from Florida. All these worthies are (or were, Crist became a Democrat this year) establishment Republicans with the full support of party elders.

The TEA party is not a monolithic closed structure resistant to outside ideas — wait that sounds like Boehner’s cabal — it’s a loosely affiliated collection of like–minded conservatives and tin foil distributors. (Just kidding.)

There is no national body that selects candidates. Local groups support local candidates.

The TEA party–backed candidate lost in Missouri because establishment Republicans in that state utilize a primary system that doesn’t have a runoff if no one gets 50 percent of the vote. That’s how Todd Akin becomes your nominee with fewer than 35 percent of the vote. Akin and his gynecological theories could have never won a runoff. The TEA party candidate would not have survived the primary if Missouri Republicans ran the party like Texas Republicans.

In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell was simply mislabeled. She would have had no problem winning as a Democrat. If Patty Murray of budget deal negotiating fame can win her first race running as “a mom in tennis shoes,” O’Donnell would have had few problems as “a mom who’s not a witch.”

Country club Republicans conveniently overlook the fact that TEA party energy is responsible for Boehner sitting in the Speaker’s chair today.

This wretched budget deal has now passed the Senate where Republicans with primary opponents voted against it as a sop to people like you and me. There was never a doubt as to House passage. If you want to see how your house member voted you can check here and here.

I’m sorry to say the deal passed with every GOP member from Virginia voting ‘yes.’ These Republicans are either too timid to vote conservative or they simply aren’t conservatives.

Regardless of the reason for their failure, I’ll be happily boycotting every one of these politicians until they’re out of office. No money and no votes from the Shannon household and I urge every conservative reading this to do likewise.

This is a boycott every conservative can get behind.

Sears and Kmart stores to close due to declining sales

Sears Holdings Corporation reported that it would close up to 120 of its Sears and Kmart stores as it goes through a transformation.

Both Kmart and Sears stores have seen serious drops in the quarter over quarter numbers and year over year financials:

QTD YTD
Kmart -4.4% -1.8%
Sears Domestic -6.0% -3.3%
Total -5.2% -2.6%

The declines have been blamed on reduced demand for appliances, electronics and apparel, but the company is using tax strategies to prevent it from taking a realized loss.

Due to our performance in 2011 we expect that we will record in the fourth quarter a non-cash charge related to a valuation allowance on certain deferred tax assets of $1.6 to $1.8 billion.  Although a valuation adjustment is recognized on these deferred tax assets, no economic loss has occurred as the underlying net operating loss carryforwards and other tax benefits remain available to reduce future taxes to the extent income is generated.  Further, we may recognize in the fourth quarter an impairment charge on some goodwill balances for as much as $0.6 billion.  These charges would be non-cash and combined are estimated to be between $1.6 and $2.4 billion.

In order to transform the Sears retail network into something more competitive, the retail giant will be taking several steps:

  • Close 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears Full-line stores.  We expect these store closures to generate$140 to $170 million of cash as the net inventory in these stores is sold and we expect to generate additional cash proceeds from the sale or sublease of the related real estate.  Further, we intend to optimize the space allocation based on category performance in certain stores.  Final determination of the stores to be closed has not yet been made.  The list of stores closing will be posted at www.searsmedia.com when final determination is made.
  • Excluding the effect of store closures, we currently expect to reduce 2012 peak domestic inventory by $300 million from the 2011 level of $10.2 billion at the end of the third quarter as a result of cost decreases in apparel, tighter buys and a lower inventory position at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • Focus on improving gross profit dollars through better inventory management and more targeted pricing and promotion.

Sears is also modifying its long-held policy of keeping even marginal stores open:

Reduce our fixed costs by $100 to $200 million. While our past practice has been to keep marginally performing stores open while we worked to improve their performance, we no longer believe that to be the appropriate action in this environment.  We intend to accentuate our focus and resources to our better performing stores with the goal of converting their customer experience into a world-class integrated retail experience.

While the store closures will reduce inventory by over $500 million and company debt by up to $350 million, there must be some concern over Sears’ reduced ability to compete with the growing number of Wal Mart and Target stores.