Moderation is always a good thing -- except when it comes to retail sales for stores open more than a year. In that case, a person wants as extreme an increase as possible -- especially if said person is an investor in the company.
The stakeholders in Wal-Mart
So comps for the discounting Goliath won't be as peppy. It's unfortunate, and it doesn't make me overjoyed (I'm much more enamored with double-digit increases), but at this point it's not unexpected. Retailers just can't hit superb sales expansions month after month now that we are in an environment of expensive energy prices and questionable consumer confidence. The jobs picture is a piece of artwork that is still akin to a macabre display in Rod Serling's old Night Gallery television show, so for many consumers, uncertainty is a dark-cloaked phantom that hovers about their lives like an invisible anti-angel.
But let's not get too pessimistically gothic here. Wal-Mart isn't seeing a decrease, after all, and that's when an investor really takes notice when it comes to a retailer of this caliber. As long as the number comes in as far away as possible from the lower end of the range -- that 2% possibility -- we should be OK for now. If we see 2% come September when the report is in, that'll strike me -- and everyone else, I'd imagine -- as unacceptably anemic, especially during this theoretically big shopping period, a time parents across the country celebrate with the animated vigor and wanton capriciousness of a Fat Tuesday parade in New Orleans: The back-to-school buying spree.
Some context was mentioned in the Reuters article that is important to keep in mind: Last year at this time, child tax-cut monies were being spent. Long-term investors in this blue-chip chain will no doubt show little concern for short-term numbers; if a really disappointing trend arises in the coming months, however, a closer look can be taken, and even then it might only be to figure out the best prices at which to add to the stock. Bigger concerns for Wal-Mart include legal issues such as the class action lawsuit approved back in June.
For more news on Wal-Mart, check out the Fool's coverage on the company's profit report; Target
Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned.