Target, Wal-Mart: Big Boxes, Same CrapS

For some time now, America-in-store-form Wal-Mart has been experiencing declining sales, despite its attempts to use all types of different items as hooks to lure shoppers back in. Great! But Target has problems too. Wherefore the big box store?

We're not even talking about Target's odious union-busting or generally soul-destroying work atmosphere! American shoppers don't care about those things. Americans care about cheap, tasty, artificial food and socks, in a soothing atmosphere. So, the WSJ reports, while broke but aspirational Americans are still going to Target to buy the necessities, they're not buying as many Michael Graves-designed towel racks and other faux-fancy shit, which were supposed to be Target's Killer App. Now, same-store sales are sluggish! The stock price is down! Perhaps Target was too nice to the poors?

Adrianne Shapira, retail analyst at Goldman Sachs, said Target has confused its shoppers by emphasizing food and low prices at the expense of its cool image...

These were good moves during the recession, but the pendulum may have swung too far, attracting more medium- and low-income shoppers at the expense of the higher-end shopper.

Ugh, low-income shoppers! Big mistake. That reminds me, I keep getting emails from Target employees about their work experiences in The Bullseye. Let's just drop one in here:

Long story short, I was basically thrown into the job with no training (my predecessor trained 3 months for this job, I got 2 days). I was constantly stressed because I was having trouble getting all the work done in my scheduled hours...and found myself constantly working off the clock to get caught up (this is due to the fact that I was written up for getting overtime my first week). I was constantly tired and did not enjoy doing the job...this caused me to sleep in and I started showing up late to work. When I was written up for being late, I told my manager that I didn't enjoy the job and felt I should go back to what I was doing. They told me that as soon as they could fill the job, I could go back. I continued to try to do the job but continually had issues getting to work. They wrote me up again...and again...and again...sometimes just weeks between each (though we're told we have time to improve).
It was also during this time that the Store Manager left the company all-together, and we got an all-new Store Manager and management team.

Finally, around February (well after the time I was to be done with it), the job was posted. The day it was filled, I came in and they took me into the office and fired me. I filed for unemployment...which was GRANTED...and they fought it through three appeals. Finally, the firing was deemed appropriate and I had to pay back unemployment I had received.

I now work at Walmart, and though some of my former Target team members "pity" me, I love it compared to my Target days. I've already received employee-of-the-month, and our store gives us HOUR-LONG lunch breaks for anyone working over 7-hours. I'm getting more hours and not being forced to do more work than one-person should.
I realize that it's retail and it sucks. There are still those fun scheduling moments...not to mention dealing with shitty customers...but I think working for the bigger company has some advantages over the contender trying to cut into it's market-share. The truth is Target tries so hard NOT to be Walmart...but it wants to be them so badly that it's almost worse.
Our motto when I worked at Target was "Expect More, Pay Less." The employees changed it to, "Expect More Work, Get Less Pay."

Target: less popular with employees than Wal-Mart. That may be a bad sign.

[WSJ; photo via AP]