Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ($WMT) slashed orders in the third quarter and expects to do so in the fourth quarter as well, as shoppers increasingly flock online to make their purchases. The store is also suffering from a lack of manpower to physically stock the merchandise, having shed some 120,000 employees in the last five years.
Wal-Mart sees the writing on the wall, and has invested heavily in modernizing the chain to stay competitive, not just with online retailers like Amazon Inc (AMZN) but fast growing big-box chains like Target Corporation (TGT) . The company has retained big data scientists to help parse the spending habits of customers to maximize the usage of floor space. Additionally, Wal-Mart has been amping up their focus on their own nascent online division. Amazon, in turn, has doubled down on increasing delivery speed by building scores of new warehouses, trying once again to tamp down on Wal-Mart’s move into their market.
On the labor front, Wal-Mart is also facing serious issues. While cutting worker benefits and engaging in rampant downsizing, the store has encountered a series of nationwide protests aimed at increasing worker pay and conditions.
Righting a ship as monumentally large as Wal-Mart is no simple task. The company's growth has stagnated as the chain continues to slowly implement the changes to stay competitive. The stock is up 11 percent on the year to the S&P 500’s 19.
The stock was down 1.45 percent on the day to hit $74.65 a share.