Why Walmart Can Pull Off 'everyday Low Prices'

2647 words - 11 pages

Why Walmart Can Pull Off 'Everyday Low Prices' But Everyone Else Keeps FailingAP Sep. 3, 2012, 2:28 PM 25,363 13Chicago Booth Hong Kong Campus Sept 26 Info Session in Hong Kong. Top Ranked Executive MBA Program. ChicagoBooth.asia/Exec-MBAFlickr / Walmart StoresNEW YORK (AP) - Joelle Daddino is making it difficult for stores to make money.Like many Americans who've grown accustomed to deep discounts, Daddino has become so obsessed with sales that she refuses to shop any place that isn't having one."If I don't have a coupon or it's not on sale, I just won't buy it," says the Yaphank, N.Y., resident.During the recession, retailers had more sales to lure cash-strapped Americans into stores. Now, that strategy has backfired. It has bred a group of deal junkies that won't shop unless they see "70 percent" signs or yellow clearance stickers. They're a thorn in the side of most retailers because the discounts it takes to get them into stores eats away at profits. In fact, retailers' annual profit growth was cut in half between 2006 and last year, according to a survey of 122 merchants by Retail Metrics, a research firm.So, big chains like J.C. Penney and Lowe's are trying to wean sale-addicted customers off of sales in favor of everyday low pricing. It's the biggest shift in pricing in decades, but retailers have a long way to go to convince shoppers that predictable pricing is better than the temporary promotions that they've grown to love. In fact, early this year, nearly three-quarters of 1,000 shoppers surveyed by consumer research firm America's Research Group said it would take discounts of at least 50 percent to get them to buy a given item. That's up from 52 percent in 2005.Paco Underhill, whose company Envirosell studies consumer behavior, says retailers are to blame for the increase. He says their discounting during the downturn created shoppers who think everyday pricing "takes some fun out of" shopping. To help break the vicious cycle of discounting, Underhill says merchants have to think of ways to attract shoppers that can be just as intoxicating as two-hour sales or coupons. That could mean top-notch service or exclusive merchandise, for instance."Sales are just like heroin," he says.Now, retailers are trying to replicate the success of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer that was founded 50 years ago on "everyday low" prices. Experts say Wal-Mart's strategy has worked because it built its reputation on being able to offer customers the lowest prices every day.In fact, the company's revenue at stores opened at least a year in its U.S. namesake business fell for two years when it veered away from the strategy in favor of temporary price cuts. The company has since been able to turn around its business in part by renewing its commitment to everyday low prices.Penney executives say they considered Wal-Mart's model when they decided to change the retailer's pricing strategy. It was part of an attempt to turn around the Plano,...

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