Wandering fingers at Wal-Mart

More ominous signs from across the pond. Wal-Mart has issued a profit warning, and reported that the US economy is in such a state that increasing amounts of customers - plus, of course, its staff - are stealing from its stores. So not only are many low-income families losing their homes because they can't pay off a mortgage that they were never able to afford in the first place, they're having to become increasingly imaginative in how they get their food now too.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Wal-Mart puts the problem down to rising fuel prices and higher interest rates pushing up mortgage payments, which have hit consumers' disposable income. Sceptics, meanwhile, have said the problem is unique to Wal-Mart, and that the retailer is simply trying to deflect attention from its disappointing performance in the face of rivals. Whatever the truth, 127m customers visit Wal-Mart every week, and the chain packs such an economic punch that a blip in its fortunes can drag the entire US stock market down with it. Indeed, Dow Jones had slumped by more than 150 points by mid-session yesterday.

So what of our fortunes on this side of the pond? Our markets are famously feeling the pinch right now too. Are we about to see the lesser skilled staff at supermarket giants like Tesco pocketing the produce? After all, ‘Every little helps' as they say.

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