Wal-Mart's earnings came out today and disappointed analysts with both weak international performance while "Sales at stores open at least a year fell 0.3 percent at Walmart U.S, the company's biggest unit by far."
The company is blaming this on poor economic conditions. But while economic conditions could certainly be better (sequestration and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday aren't helping) total retail sales are clearly rising this year. I'd say Wal-Mart is feeling the tremors of the same macro-trend that already destroyed Borders and Circuit City and are dragging Barnes & Noble and Best Buy down: Online shopping is the new impersonal big box store. Wal-Mart's strength in groceries partially insulates it from that trend, since Amazon hasn't (yet!) swallowed the grocery industry. But groceries are only part of what Wal-Mart does, and the war of Always Low Prices vs Always Near-Zero Profit Margins isn't going to be pleasant for Bentonville.
Correction, Aug. 15, 2013: This post previous misspelled Barnes & Noble.
TODAY IN SLATE
Scalia’s Liberal Streak
The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters
There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?
The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”
The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B
Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey
No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.
The Other Huxtable Effect
Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.