"It's Back to Basics"
James O. Armstrong
Perhaps not surprisingly, some sales today are rising out of sheer necessity, like buying food, clothing and shelter. In fact, men and women today are in the midst of a significant re-ordering of their priorities back to the basics.
For example, the basic necessities of life at "everyday low prices," has clearly accounted for Wal-Mart Stores' 7.2% sales increase during fiscal year 2008 to $401.244 billion. In addition, operating income was also up by 3.0% to $13.254 billion. In fact, "Wal-Mart recorded the strongest sales result in its history in the fourth quarter, with $108 billion in sales," said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and chief executive officer. He concluded with this statement "We achieved this through the hard work of our associates, helping our customers save money so they can live better."
Nor was Wal-Mart the only major player achieving some success recently, although this company has certainly been a standout exception in general in the current global recession. Still another excellent example of swimming upstream in the current global economy would have to be AutoZone, which recently reported its fiscal 2nd quarter profit rose 8.6%, as its sales were lifted by cost-conscious customers who have decided to repair their aging cars instead of buying a new one.
For the quarter ended February 14, 2009, the largest US auto-parts retailer by sales reported net income of $115.9 million, or $2.03 a share, up from a year ago. As gas prices dropped last year, parts retailers started to see gains. Two weeks ago, the company's key competitor, Advanced Auto Parts, projected a double-digit commercial same-store-sales growth projection for 2009. (Source: The Wall St. Journal, March 4, 2009).
Oak Brook, IL based McDonald's Corporation has also seen Americans flocking to their stores for a cheaper mealtime alternative. Because this great company has been making many "right decisions" on a global basis, its same-store sales world-wide increased 5.4%. In fact, US same-stores sales have actually increased by 6.8% (Source: The Wall St. Journal, March 10, 2009). Overall, McDonald's has been on a roll since 2003, when it chose to halt its rapid expansion in favor of other back to basic strategies, which have collectively worked.
It also may surprise you to learn that Discover, the sixth-largest credit card issuer, actually saw its earnings jump +57% in the past fiscal year at a time when AmEX declined 34% and Capital One even experienced a $46 million loss. At a time of problems in the mortgage market, Discover had earlier flagged borrowers with two home loans, keeping their credit limits low, for example (Source: BusinessWeek, February 23, 2009). Discover also wanted to grow itself internationally and last summer picked up Diners Club, which is accepted in 185 countries, from Citigroup Management. In a tough economy, a basic credit card, which simply gets the job done, works just fine.
Finally, even on the housing front for some of my fellow baby boomers, it may be back to the basics for a housing solution to take care of an aging parent or two. Instead of sending Mom or Dad off to an assisted living facility or perhaps a nursing home, some baby boomers are today choosing a house in the next chapter of their life with Mom or Dad in mind. Specifically, they may also be pooling assets/incomes in order to buy their next home together. In this way, for a spouse who stays at home or for someone with a home-office based company, you can literally see Mom or Dad every day or even multiple times throughout the day.
Of course, this "new" approach actually represents a solution from an earlier generation in America, where three generations or more of a given family used to sometimes live together under the same roof.
In fact, the Armstrong-Roush family owns a home and property right now just exactly like what I just described, where our family has lived successfully together over the past 12 years, initially with both of my wife's parents and more recently with just my mother-in-law after the death of my wife's father. And, right now, our great home with approximately 5,600 square feet on one floor located on a heavily-wooded property, which includes a one-acre pond and a four-horse barn in McHenry County, Illinois, is FOR SALE.
While every family, even pooling their assets together, may not qualify to purchase this home, for someone in the Greater Chicago area, who either works in Downtown Chicago or even in Downtown Milwaukee or perhaps in the suburbs of one of these great cities, here is one more option to investigate. Information on our little "piece of heaven" can be accessed here: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/9911-Lucas-Road_Woodstock_IL_60098_1100397380.
In a word, it's back to the basics for all of us, as we investigate new approaches and new ways of doing things in today's challenging economic times in the United States and around the world.
James O. Armstrong, who serves as Editor and President of NowWhatJobs.net, http://www.nowwhatjobs.net, which is The Resource for Job Transitions over 40, also wrote "Now What: Discovering Your New Life and Career after 50."
In addition, he is the Cofounder with his wife of Armstrong Solutions Inc., http://www.armstrongsolutions.net, which is a Counseling, Coaching and Career Management Practice with a reduced fee schedule to expand their services to a larger group of men and women with needs. Armstrong also serves as President of James Armstrong & Associates, Inc., which is a national and international media representation firm serving Central US and Canada out of his Suburban Chicago base.