Those are still major issues for the big-box retailer. But if Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon is wise, he'll want to address several more topics of burning interest at the shareholder meeting Friday.
One would be telling investors how Wal-Mart plans to address consumers' rising interest in affordable organic foods; competitors like Target (TGT) and traditional supermarkets are starting to capitalize on organics. Another pressing topic is how to resuscitate Wal-Mart's flagging warehouse club membership business, Sam's Club.
All signs, though, point to Wal-Mart executives continuing to play up their efforts to improve employee wages and development at this year's annual celebration of "Mr. Sam," as the founder is known at Wal-Mart. And why not stress the bump in employee pay? Lifting pay for those making minimum wage is good PR for a company that has battled protests in front of its hulking supercenters for well over a year.
According to a report by the Associated Press, department managers at Wal-Mart of complex and service-oriented jobs in areas such as produce, electronics and auto care will start at $13 per hour and peak at $24.70 per hour, beginning in July. And starting next February, these workers will be paid at least $15 per hour. Previously, the pay range was from $10.30 to $20.09.
Managers of less-complicated departments such as clothing, consumer products and home goods will earn from $10.90 to $20.71 per hour. Previously, they made $9.90 to $19.31.
The latest news was part of Wal-Mart's decision in March to invest about $1 billion in its employees this year in the form of higher hourly wages and more training. The goal? Better customer service -- that leads to better sales.
Beyond the issue of wages, though, there are three key areas Wal-Mart needs to address at its June 5 annual meeting.