Wal-Mart CEO: Downturn has changed us – maybe forever

13 Jan

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Wal-Mart has made a business out of selling us as much stuff as they can.  They’ve done this by outsourcing to China, operating at huge scale, building incredible logistic capabilities and keeping prices below local, smaller competitors.  They are the model of modern, middle class consumer society.  They are one of the only companies in the world right now that is not losing their shirt.  That is why I was shocked to read this in Ad Age magazine:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Consumers, particularly younger ones, who are seriously cutting back spending during the current economic downturn may be establishing new patterns of frugality that will live on after the recovery. That was one of the concerns of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, who yesterday kicked off the National Retail Federation’s annual convention in Manhattan. His candid comments come just weeks before he is scheduled to step down as CEO. –>

There has been much speculation on NowPublic as to what Western society will look like on the other side of the economic crisis.  Some assume it’ll be business as usual.  Others think we’ll emerge with a whole different set of values and views about consumerism.  Whatever that change is, Wal-Mart will be the first to see it. 

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