Steve Goldstein: “Wal-Mart makes official its reliance on food-stamp recipients for profits” – Market Watch

Posted on :Mar 24, 2014

By: Steve Goldstein

Market Watch

March 24, 2014

Wal-Mart Stores filed its 10-K late on Friday after the market closed, and the world’s largest retailer added some new language to the list of factors that could hurt the company.

There are oodles of things Wal-Mart is fearful of, from Fed interest-rate policy to climate change, but here’s the specific language on benefits: “changes in the amount of payments made under the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Plan and other public assistance plans (and) changes in the eligibility requirements of public assistance plans.” (Yes, Wal-Mart’s lawyers got the name of the program wrong — it’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.)

The latter language could reflect both the change in the food-stamp program as well as the ongoing debate over whether Congress should renew extended jobless benefits that lapsed at the end of December.

This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has commented on the business impact of the food-stamp program. On Jan. 31, Wal-Mart said the reduction in food-stamp benefits by as much 5.5% in November hurt its profits last quarter and were the reason the company’s comparable-store sales were negative (-0.4%) rather than flat at its Walmart stores.

Wal-Mart’s risk factors also reflect worries about a skills shortage, both to operate their new stores as well as to build them. The latter is an issue that the building industry is more broadly worried about as well.

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