This was posted today at http://www.lemetropolecafe.com/. This is a pretty scary indicator that things are a whole lot worse than most suspect...
Something Big out There
Hi: Found this on a chatboard, cheers, Ed xxxxxx
I have worked retail for several years. I am in mid-level store management right now. I don't want to say exactly what company I work for, but it is in the top 3 largest. I work at a store in a major city.
There have been some crazy things going on recently. The changes that we are being asked me make per corporates direction makes me think that the people at the top think something VERY big is going to be happening to the economy soon. I don't think the media or the government is giving us the full details of what is actually going on, but I think the CEO's and others at the top are fully aware and are making plans.
For one thing I check sales every day. At the store level we usually compare what sales are today compared to sales for the same day, week, month, and year last year. Sales at our store, our district, and company wide have taken a HUGE drop compared to the same time last year. When I looked at them today my store and every store in our district was down over 30% for the same time last year. The company as a whole is also in the negative for the same time last year. (but not as much, but it gets lower every day).
Honestly at my store I could say that we have done everything in our power at the store level to increase sales, but it just isn't happening. Departments like electronics are literally almost completely empty the entire day. The only departments that actually are getting sales are consumables, health, and chemicals. Just walking the store these are the only departments I ever even see people in ever since christmas ended.
Sometimes I will cover the service desk so a team member can take a lunch/break. When I do I sometimes process peoples credit card payments which lets me see how much they owe and how much they are paying. There are tons of people with THOUSANDS of dollars on their card only making minimum payments. These balances are usually at interest rates over 20%. Then there are people bringing in checks for the full amount, but they are BALANCE TRANSFER checks.... they are just moving it to other cards.
But that isn't what really worries me. What worries me is the changes corporate is making. I have worked here for years, and in the last 4 months I have seen more changes than all that time combined.
We are getting emails all the time from corporate telling us to reduce costs anyway we can. We recently got one telling us to start pulling fluorescent light bulbs, that we don't need all of them in order to provide illumination.... and those bulbs barely use any power.
Corporate has instructed all stores to lower the AC. It has been lowered enough to the point we get complaints from team members and customers.
Corporate has sent us emails telling us to make sure we fill bags to the absolute possibly maximum. They are not even sending us large bags anymore to some stores.
Corporate has recently eliminated (what I would estimate based on how many positions we lost vs the thousands of stores we have) several thousand management positions at *all levels* of management at stores.
This NEVER APPEARED ON THE NEWS! I suspect because it was not a traditional lay off. What corporate basically told us was "Your position is eliminated, but you are not laid off. Once you quit/get your self fired/whatever your position just won't be filled again" So we are basically slowly losing jobs as people company wide quit, get fired, etc.... but the jobs are never filled again. So basically we are cutting jobs, but the way it is being done is preventing it from getting reported in the media or tracked by the government as job losses.
No non-management positions have been eliminated, instead hours have been cut for them.
Raises this year have also been lowered in amount compared to in previous years. They have been lowered enough that corporate is keeping it a secret until we have to tell team members.
The company is also buying less. Our distribution centers are sending us, for example, 3 of a certain item when normally we would get 50.... and they don't send us more until those sell. I have not been able to keep departments full of product despite contacting corporate and asking for more because we are being sent such small amounts of product.
We have had trucks cancelled all the time now simply because we sold so little that they can't justify sending so few items to a store.
People are simply NOT buying things. They are not buying anything that isn't a consumable basically. I asked our pricing team to do a store mark down and lower the price on almost all of our TVs by 30-50%. We still have not sold a single one in over a week after! Our TVs were not priced very high to begin with.
Our pricing team is also being sent price increase changes from corporate in huge numbers. I am talking entire aisles of product for them to raise the prices on.[Bag here: Inflation? what Inflation?] The other day we got a STACK of pages of product to increase prices on. We thought it HAD to be a mistake because that has simply never happened before. We have emailed corporate asking if it was a mistake... we have not heard back yet, but I suspect it was not.
Many stores are now changing to non-overnight stores. They will be closed overnight and ALL power except in office areas will be cut overnight to save on costs.
There have even been changes to job descriptions recently. Corporate is basically giving job dutys to people at lower levels which used to be reserved for people at higher levels. Even some management tasks are being given to people in non-management positions. Basically they are paying people less to do what people used to get paid more to do.
Things are NOT looking pretty right now. I can tell you from a consumer spending point of view something is definantely going on.... All these changes tell me the people at the top are trying to brace for something big that is going to be happening to the economy.