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Walmart Loses Wealthy Customers

High and middle-income shoppers are “slightly less satisfied” with customer service, price, and selection at Wal-Mart, according to analyst Fay Landes at Cowen, a Manhattan-based financial services firm.

Higher income shoppers are defined by Landes as those with annual household incomes over $100,000; the average household income of a Wal-Mart shopper falls between $30,000 and $60,000. These less-wealthy shoppers, hit hard by high payroll taxes and gas prices, are spending less, while wealthier shoppers have increased their patronage to the big-box discounter, making them all the more crucial to satisfy.

In a “client note,” Landes noted that workers in U.S. stores averaged 325 in 2010’s fourth quarter, and sunk to 289 in the same quarter in 2013. “Reduced store labor, despite the company’s best efforts, likely results in some diminishment of customer service,” she wrote.

In response to Landes, a statement was released by Wal-Mart, insisting that in the company’s own surveys indicate that “customer satisfaction numbers have trended upward over the past two years.” It added that in the troubled economy, Wal-Mart is “continuing to see higher-income customers trade in to Walmart to take advantage of our everyday low prices.”

Landes released her analysis on Thursday, April 4. At market close that day, Wal-Mart stock rose 34 cents to $76.34.