July 28, 2006

DER WALMART

We heard today on CNBC that Walmart is pulling out of Germany. Apparently it can't compete with Aldi on groceries and has lost about a billion dollars there. Yikes. There was no Walmart in our region of Germany, so I never went. Actually, we passed one once and were excited, but then we realized it was Sunday and thus it was closed. I should've taken a picture; have you ever seen a closed Walmart?

I also got a kick out of this description of why Walmart didn't work in Germany:

To American eyes, the new ethics manual is standard stuff. But when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. distributed the newly translated code to German employees a few weeks ago, it caused a furor. They read a caution against supervisor-employee relationships as a puritanical ban on interoffice romance, while a call to report improper behavior was taken as an invitation to rat on co-workers.
...
Rivals continue to chuckle about the customer reaction when, initially, Wal-Mart offered services such as grocery bagging. It turned out that Germans didn't want strangers handling their groceries. And when clerks followed orders to smile at shoppers, male customers took it as a come-on.

I still can't put Walmart and Germany in the same sentence without remembering that German haircutter who complained to my husband that she couldn't walk around in an American Walmart in just a bra. Hilarious. Some stuff just doesn't cross cultural lines; I guess Walmart and Germany simply weren't made to mix...

Posted by: Sarah at 11:47 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 When Walmart came to Germany, it did so by buying Wertkauf, a Germany supermarket chain. And then it slowly turned all Wertkauf locations into Walmarts and then some. I can remember reading articles about Walmart's troubles when they first opened. They interviewed customers, and I can remember someone saying they didn't like it when the meeter and greeter welcomed them, because they just aren't used to that in Germany. Also, the bagging just didn't work...however, they did offer free plastic bags, which is a totally anomaly in Germany, and most customers loved this. I was just at Walmart a few weeks ago with my mother, and it was amusing because there was an older cashier checking us out, and you could tell that she was guarding the old status quo...and there were no bags out...so I asked for them, and she begrudingly took out a few for me. But she didn't, like the younger cashier next to her, put out the whole pile, free for anyone to take and use as they please. It was like she secretly despised that Walmart tradition and was intent on not giving out free bags. Too bad they are closing...but I have to say, I love ALDI. Cheap, quick, and they have the most awesome capitalist system for their employees...makes Walmart almost look socialist. And you rarely meet a disgruntled ALDI employee...they are worked hard, but they earn more money than their counterparts in other supermarkets.

Posted by: calivalleygirl at July 31, 2006 06:10 AM (rynoq)

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