retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Washington Post reports that Walmart’s willingness to make concessions to trade unions n South Africa in order to successfully conclude its acquisition of Massmart there “highlights the complex relationship Wal-Mart has with its employees as unions become as globalized as the retailing giant’s footprint.

“Its employees are not unionized in the United States, where the retailer has become infamous for its staunch opposition to labor groups. Even in Canada, it closed a store after workers there organized. But in the United Kingdom, Wal-Mart touts a growing roster of union employees and has negotiated contracts with entrenched labor groups in Brazil and Argentina for decades.”

The suggestion is that labor unions seem poised to try to exploit this disconnect, and try to use Walmart’s global ambitions as a wedge that will allow it to organize the company’s US workers.

Twice.com reports that “Walmart is planning to expand its test of in-store mobile specialty shops to a total of 350 supercenters this year. The in-house pilot was launched in 200 stores last fall and will be extended to an additional 150 locations this year.”

The 2,000 square foot boutiques “offer a select assortment of smartphones, cellphones and pre-, post-paid and hybrid service plans, including Walmart’s exclusive Common Cents and Family Mobile pay-as-you-go products. Tablet computers are not yet part of the mix.”
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