"Wal-Mart Era Wanes Amid Big Shifts in Retail," read the headline in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. The article suggested that upscale retailers and online opportunities have changed the ways of the average shopper and that Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) has struggled to keep up.
It's true that PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP ) recently snubbed the company in favor of launching a new product at Whole Foods Markets (Nasdaq: WFMI ) , and that Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) now gets 3% less of its annual revenue from the Wal-Mart than it did in 2003.
Yet Wal-Mart isn't standing still. And if you scan the rest of the Journal, you'll find a snippet that the company has hit, ahead of schedule, its ambitious goal of selling 100 million energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to its customers in 2007.
Last September, I discussed this bright idea. Each CFL, despite being more expensive than a regular incandescent bulb, lasts eight to 12 times longer and uses a third less energy. As I stated last year, selling the 100 million bulbs was essentially the same as closing two-coal powered energy plants or removing 1.3 million automobiles from the road. That's impressive, and it demonstrates the incredible influence Wal-Mart can have when it sets its mind to something.
Wal-Mart has been recently tagged as a green giant of Wall Street, and it's been setting its mind on implementing other green initiatives. And it's continuously involving its customers in building excitement over these new ideas, as we saw in its recent move to sell concentrated laundry detergent.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of Wal-Mart's death are greatly exaggerated. Wal-Mart's competitors have responded to the company's extraordinary success, but that doesn't mean Wal-Mart is standing still.