By Charles Fishman long Read A gallon-sized jar of whole pickles is something to behold. The jar is the size of a small aquarium.
By Geoff Colvinsenior editor at large Last Updated: The original Sam's Club. The modern version of Sam's Club.
The stackable jug is part of Wal-Mart's green policy. But Sam's is just part of a far huger company, Wal-Mart, which is counting on Sam's to help fuel its own growth.
McMillon, who started working at a Wal-Mart warehouse as a summer job in high school, has grown Sam's impressively during his three years as chief; he has consistently increased same-store sales faster than those at Wal-Mart stores.
But Sam's profits fell in the quarter that ended July 31, reflecting the pressures on retailers generally.
McMillon, widely considered a possible future Wal-Mart WMTFortune chief, talked recently with Fortune's Geoff Colvin about how the slow economy is changing consumer behavior, how he feels about Sam's Club Republicans, what will be selling this Christmas, and much else.
One of the most important questions regarding the economy is how all the tumult on Wall Street will affect the American consumer.
Nobody has a better perspective on that than you. So what do you think? Fuel prices are really a pressure point, and they have had an impact on food and other things as well. So what happens on Main Street right now, more so than on Wall Street, is that people are having to watch pennies more than they might have a year ago and are making tradeoffs.
They're making decisions about what they must have and then making a few discretionary purchases - but we've seen fewer discretionary purchases in the past few months. On the whole, are they spending less?
Gasoline is more expensive, but you sell gas as well. What is the net effect for you? I think at the end of the year, when you add it all up, they will have spent slightly more, but the growth will be less than we've seen in recent years, and they'll spend it on dramatically different things. So you'll see a bigger portion of the check going toward energy and food and less on things like electronics, though they'll still have the coolest cellphone as they prioritize those discretionary purchases.
We're still selling a lot of flat-panel televisions. But the home category, which would include sheets, towels, furniture - things like that - has been under pressure. Although our team has changed our sheet program and our towel program, our sales are actually really good, which just goes to prove that if you have the right item, they'll find a way to pay for it.
You may take share from somebody else, but they'll find a way to pay for it. Do you have an economic forecast?McMillon, widely considered a possible future Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune ) chief, talked recently with Fortune's Geoff Colvin about how the slow economy is changing consumer behavior, how he feels about Sam's Club Republicans, what will be selling this Christmas, and much else.
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Buy products such as Kimberly Bay Solid Wood Louvered Pine Slab Interior Door at Walmart and save. At a Walmart store in North Bergen, N.J., an example of what the chain’s new express lanes will look like in its money services areas. (Sarah Halzack/The Washington Post). We would like to show you a description here but the site won’t allow us.