Profit Slows for Wal-Mart as Oil Prices Crimp Sales

The NY Times is reporting today that Wal-Mart’s profits are down, they announced the “smallest quarterly profit growth in four years yesterday.”

“Wal-Mart Stores did miss their plan as our customer continues to be impacted by higher gas prices and it is difficult to improve our expense leverage in the current environment,” the chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., said in a statement.

“I worry about the effect of higher oil prices,” Mr. Scott said in a recorded message for investors, adding that the impact could potentially “erase improvements in employment and real income for an important part of our customer base.”

While I have no pity for Wal-Mart’s slumping sales, as a small business owner, I recognize that the slump in sales for large corporate retailers trickles down to smaller retailers, which are my primary clientele. We always read about the large corporate retailers in the economic news, but never see any reports of how the small retailers are being affected by the economy.

One has to wonder with the price of gas rising daily, why the Bush administration has not stepped in and demanded that the oil industry, with their reports of record profits, do something to ease the pain at the pumps. But, of course we know the reason why… as long as the oil industry continues to fill the coffers for the GOP, we’ll see no intervention.

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