Frugal Friday: Missing From a Wal-Mart Near You Edition

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Missing from Walmart

Happy Friday everyone! About a month back I wrote a post called You Bought That at Walmart and it touched a nerve with many readers. In fact, it is one of the highest commented blog posts on Frugal Rules as well as one of the most shared socially. I know that I am not alone in my disdain for Walmart as my good friends Greg and Holly also wrote of their hate towards Walmart a few weeks ago. Not surprisingly, their post was also received many comments. You mention the Walmart name and you seem to get a broad range of responses, usually people either view them as a necessary evil and some just downright hate them. That is why this article from Bloomberg stood out to me this week as there is growing disdain directed at Walmart. This article was not unique either as it is at least the third article I have read from major news sites in the past few weeks. All that coverage about Walmart has me pondering at what point is the convenience or cost-saving of Walmart not worth the hassle of shopping there?

If you do not want to read the article, I’ll give you the crux of the issue. The issue is that people all over the U.S. are finding that their Walmarts are increasingly running out of items on their store shelves. This has resulted in some customers choosing to go to either Target or Costco as they look to stretch their grocery budget. Add this to the completely understandable disdain for their ridiculous checkout lines and people are getting increasingly embittered against Walmart. The items in question are not specialty items, not that Walmart sells “specialty” items, but you get my point. The items are for common, everyday staples that you would expect any grocery store to have in stock. Both Mrs. Frugal Rules and I have noticed this at our local Walmart. Despite shopping there at various times during the day and week, we have seen a growing issue over the last few months where we go there to do our shopping only to walk out with several basic items still left to purchase because we couldn’t find them on the shelves. Most recently it was paper plates. Before that, the ever-elusive head of green cabbage.

The article does not necessarily go this far, but I believe the crux of it might just be boiled down to good old fashioned corporate greed. The article cites an analyst from Bernstein & Co. stating that Walmart’s workforce has become 120,000 employees lighter over the past five years. Added to this, the company has continued to add stores to its growing empire, 455 over the same period, bringing them to a grand total of 4,005 stores in the U.S. alone. The article cites that Walmart has roughly 1.3 million employees here in the U.S. working in their stores, so let’s do some math. If they have 1.3 million employees, then that averages to roughly 324 employees per store; adding back the lost 120,000 employees lost would add back roughly 30 more employees…or just over 9% more employees in each store. It’s no wonder that employees are seeing things fall by the wayside and that they’re being given too many tasks to complete in a given shift which, in turn, might be to blame for this new disdain for Walmart. All of this has my analytical mind wondering if this is corporate greed trying to squeeze more profits or if it’s just dumb luck. I would tend to say it’s the former as opposed to the latter, and they take on further risk of driving away customers to their competition, albeit small in many smaller communities.

Thank you for listening to my Walmart rant, so now on to more important topics. I was once again increasingly busy this week but was still able to read some good blog posts. I encourage you to check some of them out and explore the sites as you’ll find a wealth of helpful info along the way.


Blog Post of the Week

Celebrating National Financial Literacy Month on The Heavy Purse

Who knew that we had a Financial Literacy Month? I did, but not which month it was. Shannon is right on track with her post in stating “Every single person handles money so becoming financially literate shouldn’t be considered optional but a requirement.” I could not agree more with Shannon. We all, as we grow older, become responsible for our money and are shortchanging ourselves and those around us when we make poor financial decisions. If you want to read more about this “celebration”, then I encourage you to read Shannon’s post as it genuinely made me pump my fist.

Other Blog Posts That Ruled

Create Wealth That Matters…guest post by My Money Design on Budget and the Beach

Which is a Better Investment: Real Estate or Stocks on Financial Samurai

Should You Go to College? on A Young Pro

Ordering From an iPad – What Will Be Automated Next? on Young Adult Money

Investing in Stocks and Technical Analysis – An Introduction on The Wise Dollar

We Gave Frugal the Finger on Average Joe Money


Odd Search Terms

Great stocks to invest in that will make you rich…Penny stocks for sure!

I bought this at Wal-Mart…I am truly sorry!

Should the middle class save their money or spend their money…stick around for a while and it’ll be obvious what I think!

Don’t believe Buffett…You must not like to make money!

How can I retire ever without savings…Simple, you can’t!

I’m so excited for summer vacation…So am I!

Why do my co-workers east so much fast food…Because they’ve not read my Confessions of a Fast Food Employee yet.

How are people different from the rest of us…They’re not alien like you and me!


What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the empty shelf at Walmart recently, or have you given up on them altogether? Have a great weekend everyone!


Photo courtesy of: Ron Dauphin

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.

Latest posts by John Schmoll (see all)


  • Honestly, trying to do an online order with Walmart was painful, though it did work out in the end. You have to go through the whole order and if it’s out of stock they cancel it a few hours later. Then you have to do the whole process again and hope the next store doesn’t cancel. Anyway it’s kind of a pathetic system that really needs to be fixed.

    • John says:

      We’ve only used the online system a few times and have had middling success with it. A few times the thing would come back canceled and just be frustrating to no end.

  • Alexa says:

    The only time I go into Walmart is Christmas or Birthdays just so I can see what kind of toys they have. Other than that I steer clear. My Walmart is usually so packed you have to bump into people to get through the aisles and it drives me insane. I *hate* Walmart 🙂

  • Happy Friday John!
    We don’t care for Walmart, but we love that they’ll price match anything. It’s just too useful. However, they haven’t had kale in stock for several trips! What’s up with that business?! I’ve got green juice to make!!

    Have a great weekend!

    • John says:

      I agree Jacob, that price matching is what has been taking us back. That said, it’s just not worth it if they don’t have the things you need. Have a great weekend!

  • For budget sake, as much as WM drives me nuts, we’ll be sticking around for awhile. I suspect things might be different once our debt is paid off and we don’t have to count our pennies as tightly anymore. 🙂

  • pauline says:

    I just noticed my local supermarket is run by Walmart. Last week there were only 2 bottles of 7 up left. Just before Easter when everyone has guests and buys drinks. There were mountains of other sodas but no Sprite, 7up or other lemon pop. It was weird. I would change supermarket if that happened too often, the queue also has gotten worse.

    • John says:

      We’ve seen things like that, or just being completely out of every day things. The lines have gotten worse, though I don’t know how because they were already pretty bad.

  • I will shop at but I definitely avoid the store like the plague. My dislike is touches some of the issues you mentioned above, but I find the shoppers to be the main reason. It is just too crowded most of the time and the customers seem to lose common decency when shopping there. I do not know why but it seems this mainly happens there but if I go to Target or another store I have a better shopping experience because the people do not seem to lose their minds. Costco also falls into this category but I go there out of need. I don’t need to go to Walmart.

    • John says:

      The shoppers there certainly do not make it better by any means. I think once people walk into the doors they just become stupid all of a sudden and it gets infuriating at times. We see the same thing at Costco with the samples….like people have not eaten for a month.

  • Jose says:

    Thanks for the mention! Here’s one other thing I hate about Wal-Mart, you find a product there that you like and at a great price, you buy it for a few months and then they decide to discontinue it. Grrrrr. How about an annoying Wal-Mart trend? Here’s one, Idiot corporate buyers that think that $16.00 foo-foo dog shampoo is exactly the thing they need in their stores. Seriously, have they lost touch with their demographics? More importantly, have they ever looked at people of walmart dot com?

  • Once my gift cards are gone, I am going to *try* never to shop at Walmart again if I can help it. Hope that you have a great weekend, John!

  • Nick @ says:

    Thanks for including me this week John! I really appreciate it.

  • I don’t like walmat either…something about that place. Luckily where I live in LA there is hardly a walmat to be found…just Target thankfully. I love that store! Thanks for the blog mention!

  • Mackenzie says:

    Ugh, not a fan of Walmart at all. Never have been.

    Have a great weekend John 🙂

  • I am so honored to be the blog post of the week! Thank you! I truly appreciate it. And, of course, I absolutely agree the person we shortchange by remaining financially illiterate is ourselves and our loved ones. Hopefully, we can serve as a wake-up call and get people moving in the right direction.

    Yeah, not a big fan of Walmart. It’s doesn’t surprise me to hear about long lines since they are clearly short-staffed. I can imagine morale among employees is low. The few times I’ve been in Walmart it felt very different from Target. They are both big box stores with fluorescent lights and no windows, but Target felt cheerful and Walmart felt depressing. Now I know why. Unhappy customers and unhappy employees do not create a welcoming atmosphere. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • John says:

      Not a problem Shannon! Thank you for your work to make people aware of the need for Financial Literacy.

      We have seen the low morale as well and it really does impact the service they offer…which ultimately makes the shopping experience that much worse. You have a great weekend as well Shannon!

  • Luckily, I don’t shop at Walmart much. I will gladly pay a few cents more at Target where their shelves are usually stocked well and they have a great checkout experience. The only thing I buy at Walmart is motor oil and filters. You can’t beat their price of that. This doesn’t surprise me though. They want to push minimum wage workers to do much more, yet not pay them. Sad.

    • John says:

      I agree Grayson, it is sad and they already do not have a stellar record with their employers. We’re looking at switching ourselves to probably a mix of Aldi’s & Target.

  • I bought my work boots at Walmart. The last pair started tearing after 3 months, but they did take a full year of rough usage before completely falling apart. When I went back last month, I wanted the slightly upgraded pair that were leather. They had every size from 7-10, plus 13 and 14, but were completely out of 11 and 12, the two sizes that would actually fit me. I even went back a week later and they STILL were out of my size.

    • John says:

      Wow, how could they have 13 & 14 but not 10-11? I guess it should not surprise me since it’s WalMart, but those are pretty common show sizes.

      • I think that’s why they didn’t have them. They ordered one of each size, sold out of the common sizes immediately but because the shelf looked full, they haven’t re-ordered anything.

  • Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    I will choose Target over Walmart any day! Even though they added the express checkout lanes if you have less than 10 items it still feels like an eternity to get out of Walmart. Have a great week-end John.

    • John says:

      I would add well K.K., especially if you’re doing a side by side comparison. The only thing that keeps us going back is the lower prices & price matching. That said, we just might be changing that soon.

  • The statistics for Walmart are absolutely compelling. There was an interesting article in the Times a while back about how they are changing, but I wonder how fast this implementation actually is… Have a great weekend!

  • The Wal-Mart near our new house is 100x nicer than the Wal-Mart near our old house. We shop there because of the prices and not because we enjoy it… to me I’ll never enjoy grocery shopping so why pay more for nicer atmosphere for 30 mins?

    • John says:

      It’s funny how the location makes a huge difference. There’s one about ten miles from us which is great, but the one near us…not so much. That said, we just do our best to go in and get our shopping done.

  • We were slaves to walmart in Canada since it has the lowest prices around.

  • Justin says:

    I haven’t been to a Walmart for months. Poor customer service and those crazy long lines keep me from going to the store. I’d rather shop sales at Meijer, a store with comparable prices, it’s clean and has great customer service.

  • Jim says:

    John, I feel the same disdain for Walmart, try to avoid it if at all possible. I particularly dislike the fact that they have put many great little mom and pops out of business. Great post!

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