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Wal-Mart cuts back on greeters

The retail behemoth has been phasing out greeters on the late-night shift at its 3,000-plus US supercenters.

By Karen Datko Jan 25, 2012 7:07PM

When you go to Wally World late at night, don't expect to hear "Welcome to Wal-Mart" when you walk through the door.

 

The nation's largest private employer has been eliminating greeters on the 10 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift at its 3,000-plus supercenters over the last six months, "chipping away at a 30-year tradition of making sure all shoppers are welcomed to the store," Bloomberg reports. Most supercenters are open 24 hours a day

 

Cost cutting has much to do with this. "Same-store sales at Wal-Mart's namesake U.S. locations declined for nine straight quarters before snapping the streak with a 1.3% gain for the quarter ended in October," Bloomberg says.

 

The greeters have been moved to other jobs, like stocking shelves.

 

Greeters have been a fixture and the face of Wal-Mart for many years, but I'm betting that some of those greeters welcome the change. A greeter has what's probably one of the toughest jobs in the store -- being on your feet all day, blasted by outside heat and cold through the open doors, and saying the same thing over and over again. Post continues below.

Oh, and then there's the customers. Plenty of news reports indicate the challenges they can pose to these low-paid workers -- $9.08 an hour, according to Glassdoor (and a hat tip to The Consumerist for keeping excellent track of these incidents):

  • A 69-year-old greeter reportedly was fired after a customer who set off the alarm tried to punch him and he swung back.
  • A 71-year-old greeter was allegedly choked after asking to see a customer's receipt. The injuries weren't serious.
  • A 100-year-old greeter -- yes, 100 -- said she was knocked down after asking to see a receipt. (The incident was later ruled an accident.) The greeter, who worked five days a week, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "that her employers treat her well but that she works because she needs the money."
  • A 72-year-old greeter had to be hospitalized after he was punched in the face outside the store.
  • A 70-year-old Wal-Mart employee was allegedly slugged by a customer on Christmas Eve after she asked to see a receipt (which the customer had). It's unclear from news reports whether the employee was a greeter or a cashier.

I haven't noticed a change in the greeter presence because my local Wal-Mart is no longer open 24/7 and I'm generally asleep at night. Wal-Mart suspects other shoppers won't notice either.

 

Will the elimination of late-night greeters affect your shopping experience? Is Wal-Mart making a mistake by moving away from late founder Sam Walton's vision for the company?

 

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