Walmart's Problem: More Stores, Fewer Employees
Products, staff, customers disappearing from the aisles
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2013 8:46 AM CDT
In this May 16, 2011 photo, the Walmart logo is displayed on a store in Springfield, Ill. Consumers spent less on big-ticket home items such as furniture and appliances in May as the housing market continued...   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

(Newser) – Walmart's shelves are looking empty these days, and it's not because the product isn't available: The company simply doesn't have enough employees to restock them, store workers tell Bloomberg. The big blue retail behemoth has added 455 US stores over the past five years, but its workforce has dropped by 1.4%—that's about 20,000 fewer people to put toilet paper and socks out on shelves. And as employee ranks thin, other problems bubble up, Bloomberg notes: longer check-out and customer service lines, for instance.

A Walmart spokesperson denies anything is amiss. But the company's sales growth has slowed, and its own CEO reportedly admitted last month that it is "getting worse" at stocking shelves, though he pinned the blame on the fact that "we run out quickly and the new stuff doesn't come in." Employees agree. "There are gaps where merchandise is missing," said one California department manager last month. "We are not talking about a couple of empty shelves. This is throughout the store in every store. Some places look like they’re going out of business."