Looking for strong evidence a consumer slowdown is in progress? Look no further than a Bloomberg reports that shows Wal-Mart’s Slowness to Stock Shelves Worsens, Sales Slump.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT), already struggling to woo shoppers constrained by higher taxes, is “getting worse” at keeping shelves stocked, the retailer’s U.S. chief told executives, according to minutes of an officers’ meeting obtained by Bloomberg News.

“We run out quickly and the new stuff doesn’t come in,” U.S. Chief Executive Officer Bill Simon said, according to the minutes of the Feb. 1 meeting. Simon called “self-inflicted wounds” Wal-Mart’s “biggest risk” and said an executive vice president had been appointed to fix the restocking problem, according to the minutes.

Once a paragon of logistics, the world’s largest retailer has been trying to improve its restocking efforts since at least 2011, hiring consultants to walk the aisles and track whether hundreds of items are available. It even reassigned store greeters to replenish merchandise. The restocking challenge emerged as Wal-Mart was returning more merchandise to shelves and reducing staff in many stores.

Wal-Mart’s inability to keep its shelves stocked coincides with slowing sales growth. Same-store sales in the U.S. for the 13 weeks ending April 26 will be little changed, Simon said in the company’s Feb. 21 earnings call.

There’s Something Happening Here

In case you missed it, please consider Walmart Senior VP Asks “Where are All the Customers? And Where’s Their Money?”; “February MTD Sales a Total Disaster”

With a tribute to Buffalo Springfield (sorry I cannot find a decent musical video) …
There’s something happening here. What it is, is exactly clear …

Mike “Mish” Shedlock