I went to Wal-Mart today. Wal-Mart is always busy, no matter what time of day you go shopping. People were hustling and bustling up and down the aisles. There were numerous workers stocking and restocking shelves and asking “Did you find everything ok?” There were “We Are Hiring” signs throughout the store. Up past the checkouts in the Service Desk area was a kiosk saying, “Apply Now.”
Money Magazine reported last month: while other stores slumped this holiday season, Wal-Mart actually increased sales by 3.4%. The reason, "Consumer psychology is very negative right now."
I was thinking about this as I was shopping. What does this mean? “Consumer psychology is very negative right now.” Negative? Meaning we will not shop at high-end stores? We won’t shop at the neighborhood grocery stores or specialty shops owned by our neighbors? Negative meaning we won’t frequent our local contractors paying living wages?
Negative, for every day consumers, means we will only pay the lowest prices for our purchases regardless of what we think about Wal-Mart’s employment practices/low wages/few benefits, overseas suppliers/poor working conditions and their detrimental impact to other small businesses.
If the economy does tank, this means Wal-Mart will continue to thrive because most of us will continue to patronize their stores. They will continue to hire, pay low wages with few benefits, import manufactured goods from slave wages shops in 3rd world countries and we will put the final stakes in the hearts of local small businesses.
If we had a crystal ball, what will we see in the future? Will we, the huddled masses, all be employees at Wal-Mart? Mom, dad and kids? Imagine, each city with one giant Super Duper Mega Wal-Mart store. The new Super Duper Mega Wal-Mart will be complete with movie theaters, bars, theme park, casino and churches. They will have a Wal-Mart school from K – 12 and a Wal-Mart College for the best students. Three bedroom ranch houses all alike, will surround the stores all with the Wal-Mart logo. Few people will need cars. There will be Wal-Mart shuttles picking up shoppers and workers to and from stores, every hour, on the hour, 24 hours a day. There will be no middle or lower class, just Wal-Mart class. Beyond the houses will be Wal-Mart Warehouses. Only one super Wal-Mart highway will run in and out of each town. The Super Wal-Mart Trucks will travel in and out of Wal-Mart Town to the Wal-Mart Country Warehouses. Airports will be available near the warehouses for the import of manufactured goods from China and farm products from South and Central America.
But don't worry. The rich, upper class and those in government will still be rich and in power. Nothing changes there. The only difference is us.
As I was getting depressed thinking about this, I read this story on CNN.com. Perhaps it isn't so great being a rich billionaire after all!
CNN Reports: -- German billionaire Adolf Merckle, one of the richest men in the world, committed suicide Monday after his business empire got into trouble in the wake of the international financial crisis, Merckle's family said Tuesday in a statement. Merckle, 74, was hit by a train in the southwestern town of Ulm, police said. His family said the economic crisis had "broken" Merckle….The state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg rejected his petition for financial assistance, and he entered bailout talks with several German banks."The financial troubles of his companies, induced by the international financial crisis and the uncertainty and powerlessness to act independently which the financial problems brought about, broke the passionate family business man, and he took his own life," his family wrote in the news release.
My advice to all of us throughout this financial crisis: "Don't Worry, Be Happy!"