The Sudden Departure Of Wal-Mart's U.S. CEO Is A Troubling Sign Of Weak Consumers

Wal-Mart’s top American executive, Bill Simon, is leaving the company.

Simon’s sudden departure comes at a “very, very odd time,” and speaks to larger trends in the economy, said Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors.

“A decision to replace a high-ranking leader of a major retailer BEFORE back to school and BEFORE holidays is no laughing matter, and speaks volumes as to the current trends in the U.S. business,” Sozzi said in a note to clients.

Bill Simon will be replaced by Gregory Faran, who currently runs the retail business in Asia.

Earlier this month, Simon told Reuters that the U.S. job rebound wasn’t translating to better sales at Wal-Mart.

“It’s really hard to see in our business today that it’s gotten any better,” Simon told Reuters.

“We’ve reached a point where it’s not getting any better but it’s not getting any worse — at least for the middle (class) and down,” Simon said.

Same-store sales at Wal-Mart’s U.S. stores have fallen for five straight quarters.

Other retailers in the discount sector have also struggled with the weak U.S. consumer.

Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine offered analysts an ominous insight about his customers in a presentation earlier this month.

“The low end consumer has not benefited in this recovery at all in fact I think (they) have slipped further back,” Levine said.

Wal-Mart will report earnings in mid-August.

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